Health and zoonotic infections of snow leopards Panthera unica in the South Gobi desert of Mongolia

Esson, Carol, Skerratt, Lee F., Berger, Lee, Malmsten, Jonas, Strand, Tanja, Lundkvist, Åke, Järhult, Josef D., Michaux, Johan, Mijiddorj, Tserennadmid Nadia, Bayrakçısmith, Rana, Mishra, Charudutt, and Johansson, Örjan (2019) Health and zoonotic infections of snow leopards Panthera unica in the South Gobi desert of Mongolia. Infection Ecology & Epidemiology, 9 (1). 1604063.

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Background: Snow leopards, Panthera uncia, are a threatened apex predator, scattered across the mountains of Central and South Asia. Disease threats to wild snow leopards have not been investigated.Methods and Results: Between 2008 and 2015, twenty snow leopards in the South Gobi desert of Mongolia were captured and immobilised for health screening and radio-collaring. Blood samples and external parasites were collected for pathogen analyses using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), microscopic agglutination test (MAT), and next-generation sequencing (NGS) techniques. The animals showed no clinical signs of disease, however, serum antibodies to significant zoonotic pathogens were detected. These pathogens included, Coxiella burnetii, (25% prevalence), Leptospira spp., (20%), and Toxoplasma gondii (20%). Ticks collected from snow leopards contained potentially zoonotic bacteria from the genera Bacillus, Bacteroides, Campylobacter, Coxiella, Rickettsia, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus.Conclusions: The zoonotic pathogens identified in this study, in the short-term did not appear to cause illness in the snow leopards, but have caused illness in other wild felids. Therefore, surveillance for pathogens should be implemented to monitor for potential longer- term disease impacts on this snow leopard population.

Item ID: 62077
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2000-8686
Keywords: conservation, Mongolia, one health, Snow leopard, ticks, zoonoses
Copyright Information: © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Funders: Snowleopard Conservation Network (SCN), Winifred Violet Scott Foundation (WVSF)
Projects and Grants: SCN 2111.92268.2258
Date Deposited: 10 May 2020 23:49
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 50%
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3009 Veterinary sciences > 300910 Veterinary pathology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970107 Expanding Knowledge in the Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences @ 50%
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