• The extent of bison infection with brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area and the potential of developing a vaccine program.

  • The transmission of B. abortus among cattle, bison, elk, and other wildlife species.

  • The relationship, if any, between bison population dynamics and brucellosis.

  • The ability of serology testing to estimate true infectiousness.

  • The efficacy and safety of existing vaccines for target and nontarget species and the need for new (including bison-specific) vaccines.

  • The nature and likely successes or limitations of a wild animal vaccination program.

  • Key factors in reducing risk of transmission from wildlife to cattle and among cattle.

Some claim that the possibility that bison or other wildlife transmit brucellosis to cattle is remote and that no management strategies are needed. Others claim that any risk of transmission is unacceptable for public health and economic reasons, and brucellosis must be eradicated from the wild. This study assesses the current state of knowledge about brucellosis infection and transmission, makes recommendations for further research, and examines the implications of various management options.


Brucellosis can be transmitted among species; in humans, it is usually characterized by a fluctuating body temperature. Although rarely fatal, human brucellosis is recurrent and debilitating. The success of treating individuals varies widely, and lifelong infection is not unusual. Human brucellosis is not a widespread health threat today in North America because of efforts to eradicate brucellosis in cattle and the use of sanitary procedures (such as pasteurization) in milk processing; human infection that does occur today generally is among people who handle infected tissues, such as veterinary workers and hunters. The hallmark sign of brucellosis in cattle, bison, and elk is abortion or birth of nonviable calves.

Because of its potential to be transmitted to humans, brucellosis is one of the most regulated diseases of cattle in the United States. Cattle shipped interstate are tested routinely only for brucellosis and tuberculosis, although other diseases cause markedly more morbidity and mortality. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) established the national brucellosis eradication

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