Document Type

Grand Teton National Park Report

First Page


Last Page



Sylvatic plague (Yersinia pestis) and tularemia (Francisella tularensis) are infectious bacterial diseases that can be transmitted from wild mammals to humans by insects or through direct contact. Although cases of plague and tularemia have been reported in the southwest, a comprehensive understanding of the prevalence, distribution and dynamics of these diseases is lacking. During the months of June and July 2000 we sampled small mammals in Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) for antibodies of these zoonotic diseases. This survey was conducted in conjunction with a large scale population dynamics study, lead by Dr. Brian Miller, Denver Zoological society, and Dr. Hank Harlow, Department of Zoology and Physiology, University of Wyoming. A published survey of plague and tularemia has not been conducted in GTNP. In 1996, Dr. Fredrick Jannett looked for plague in the genus Microtus and found low incidence <1%). Sample sizes and analysis methods were not provided in the report (Jannett 1996). However, he expected disease prevalence to be distributed randomly among habitat types but to be higher in populated versus unpopulated areas in the park. GTNP is a popular National Park that receives over 2 million human visitors annually. Within the park boundaries a high level of interaction between humans and wildlife exists near visitor centers and roadside vehicle pullouts, creating an increased risk of exposure to zoonotic diseases (Kumar et al. 1997; Aguirre and Starkey (1994). Therefore, we felt that this type of survey might prove invaluable to park managers.