OPEN Acta veterinaria Scandinavica | 12 Feb 2013
BACKGROUND: Aleutian mink disease virus (AMDV) is widespread among ranched and free-ranging American mink in Canada, but there is no information on its prevalence in other wild animal species. This paper describes the prevalence of AMDV of 12 furbearing species in Nova Scotia (NS), Canada. METHODS: Samples were collected from carcasses of 462 wild animals of 12 furbearing species, trapped in 10 NS counties between November 2009 and February 2011. Viral DNA was tested by PCR using two primer pairs, and anti-viral antibodies were tested by counterimmunoelectrophoresis (CIEP) on spleen homogenates. RESULTS: Positive PCR or CIEP samples were detected in 56 of 60 (93.3%) American mink, 43 of 61 (70.5%) short-tailed weasels, 2 of 8 (25.0%) striped skunks, 2 of 11 (18.2%) North American river otters, 9 of 85 (10.6%) raccoons, and 2 of 20 (10.0%) bobcats. Samples from six fishers, 24 coyotes, 25 red foxes, 58 beavers, 45 red-squirrels and 59 muskrats were negative. Antibodies to AMDV were detected by CIEP in 16 of 56 (28.6%) mink and one of the 8 skunks (12.5%). Thirteen of the mink and one skunk were positive for PCR and CIEP, but three mink and one skunk were CIEP positive and PCR negative. Positive CIEP or PCR animals were present in all nine counties from which mink or weasel samples were collected. CONCLUSIONS: The presence of AMDV in so many species across the province has important epidemiological ramifications and could pose a serious health problem for the captive mink, as well as for susceptible wildlife. The mechanism of virus transmission between wildlife and captive mink and the effects of AMDV exposure on the viability of the susceptible species deserve further investigation.
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