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A Baylisascaris Outbreak in Fox Squirrels (Sciurus niger) and Subsequent Detection of Francisella tularensis in Kansas, USA.

  • Vincent, Emily C1
  • Ruder, Mark G2
  • Yabsley, Michael J2
  • Hesting, Vincent S3
  • Keel, M Kevin2
  • Brown, Justin D2
  • Nemeth, Nicole M2
  • 1 College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, 1900 Coffey Road, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.
  • 2 Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, 589 D.W. Brooks Drive, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA. , (Georgia)
  • 3 Research and Survey Office, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, 1830 Merchant, Emporia, Kansas 66801, USA.
Published Article
Journal of wildlife diseases
Publication Date
Nov 21, 2019
PMID: 31750777


Thorough epidemiologic investigations of wildlife mortality events are often challenging, in part because of the dynamic variables involved. In May 2011, six fox squirrels (Sciurus niger) in Clinton State Park, Kansas, were euthanized after exhibiting clinical signs of neurologic disease. Postmortem examination of two squirrels revealed that these individuals died of Baylisascaris larva migrans, which resulted in meningoencephalitis and variable pneumonia and myocarditis. Fecal flotation of raccoon (Procyon lotor) feces collected in the area revealed Baylisascaris sp. ova, presumably Baylisascaris procyonis, in one of nine samples. Additional fox squirrel carcasses were submitted for diagnostic evaluation from eastern Kansas for 1 yr following the Baylisascaris sp. outbreak. This monitoring unexpectedly resulted in the detection of Francisella tularensis, the zoonotic pathogen that causes tularemia, in two fox squirrels. The increased attention to fox squirrel mortalities prompted by the outbreak of Baylisascaris sp. larva migrans revealed cases of tularemia that may not have been otherwise detected. Although F. tularensis is endemic in Kansas, the current distribution and prevalence of B. procyonis in raccoons and other hosts in Kansas are poorly understood. This year-long mortality investigation illustrated the importance of wildlife health monitoring as a means of assessing public health risks, especially during unusual wildlife mortality events.

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