Nasal Swabs Needed for Animal Research
May 19, 2017

The USDA-ARS-PWA Animal Disease Research Unit in Pullman, Wash., is requesting nasal swab samples from wild and ranched ungulates, including bighorn sheep, mountain goats, deer, elk, moose and antelope. These samples are being requested for a research project investigating nasal microbiomes of these species, with particular focus on respiratory-associated Mycoplasma spp. Justification for this investigation is two-fold:

1. Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae, the currently proposed primary infectious agent of bighorn sheep pneumonia and known respiratory pathogen of domestic small ruminants, to date has only been identified in members of the subfamily Caprinae (wild and domestic sheep and goats, and musk ox). With proposals being put forth to attempt to eliminate M. ovipneumoniae from domestic flocks/herds, it is prudent that we make reasonable attempts to identify all potential carriers of this bacterium.

2. We recently discovered an as of yet uncharacterized species of the Mycoplasma genus that resides in the upper airways of multiple species, currently having been identified in domestic goats, domestic sheep, elk and white-tail deer. The requested samples will be analyzed for the presence of this bacterium. If present, samples will be helpful in culturing and further characterization of this newly identified mycoplasma.

Nasal swab samples can be collected from live (during handling of captive or wild animals) or dead animals (hit-by-car, hunter collected). Even if you are a hunter and can provide just a sample or two, there is still interest in obtaining the samples. While the time between death and swab collection is optimally as short as possible, samples from animals that have been dead for longer periods of time are also requested, as the DNA from bacteria might still be present and possibly detectable by the analyses that our laboratory performs.

All supplies needed will be provided and shipping costs will be covered by the USDA-ARS-PWA-Animal Disease Research Unit. If you are able to provide samples, and would like further information, please contact: Maggie Highland, DVM, Ph.D., Dipl. ACVP, at the Animal Disease Research Unit-ARS-USDA, ADBF 3003, Pullman, WA 99164, 509-335-6327 or by email at mah@vetmed.wsu.edu.