"Emerging" parasitic infections in arctic ungulates

Integr Comp Biol. 2004 Apr;44(2):109-18. doi: 10.1093/icb/44.2.109.


Important drivers for emergence of infectious disease in wildlife include changes in the environment, shrinking habitats or concentration of wildlife, and movement of people, animals, pathogens, or vectors. In this paper we present three case-studies of emerging parasitic infections and diseases in ungulates in the Canadian north. First we discuss climate warming as an important driver for the emergence of disease associated with Umingmakstrongylus pallikuukensis, a nematode lungworm of muskoxen. Then we examine how Protostrongylus stilesi, the sheep lungworm, emerged (or re-emerged) in muskoxen after re-introduction of this host into its historical range made it sympatric with Dall's sheep. Finally, we consider Teladorsagia boreoarcticus, a newly described and common abomasal nematode of muskoxen that is emerging as a disease-causing parasite and may be an important regulator for muskox populations on Banks Island, Northwest Territories. These and other arctic host-parasite systems are exquisitely tuned and constrained by a harsh and highly seasonal environment. The dynamics of these systems will be impacted by climate change and other ecological disruptions. Baseline knowledge of parasite biodiversity and parasite and host ecology, together with predictive models and long-term monitoring programs, are essential for anticipating and detecting altered patterns of host range, geographic distribution, and the emergence of parasitic infections and diseases.