Vaccination strategies for managing brucellosis in Yellowstone bison

J. J. Treanor, Joseph S. Johnson, Rick L. Wallen, Sara Cilles, Philip H. Crowley, John J. Cox, David S. Maehr, P. J. White, Glenn E. Plumb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Concerns over migratory bison (Bison bison) at Yellowstone National Park transmitting brucellosis (Brucella abortus) to cattle herds on adjacent lands led to proposals for bison vaccination. We developed an individual-based model to evaluate how brucellosis infection might respond under alternate vaccination strategies, including: (1) vaccination of female calves and yearlings captured at the park boundary when bison move outside the primary conservation area; (2) combining boundary vaccination with the remote delivery of vaccine to female calves and yearlings distributed throughout the park; and (3) vaccinating all female bison (including adults) during boundary capture and throughout the park using remote delivery of vaccine. Simulations suggested Alternative 3 would be most effective, with brucellosis seroprevalence decreasing by 66% (from 0.47 to 0.16) over a 30-year period resulting from 29% of the population receiving protection through vaccination. Under this alternative, bison would receive multiple vaccinations that extend the duration of vaccine protection and defend against recurring infection in latently infected animals. The initial decrease in population seroprevalence will likely be slow due to high initial seroprevalence (40-60%), long-lived antibodies, and the culling of some vaccinated bison that were subsequently exposed to field strain Brucella and reacted positively on serologic tests. Vaccination is unlikely to eradicate B. abortus from Yellowstone bison, but could be an effective tool for reducing the level of infection. Our approach and findings have applicability world-wide for managers dealing with intractable wildlife diseases that cross wildlife-livestock and wildlife-human interfaces and affect public health or economic well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F64-F72
Issue numberSUPPL. 5
StatePublished - Oct 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by a cooperative agreement between the National Park Service and the University of Kentucky. We appreciate reviews and comments from D. Blanton, C. Geremia, J. Gross, J. Jones, T. Kreeger, S. Olsen, S. Sweeney, and M. Wild.


  • Bison
  • Brucellosis
  • Disease
  • Model
  • Vaccination
  • Yellowstone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology (all)
  • Veterinary (all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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