IN THE GREATER
Committee on Revisiting Brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area
Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources
Division on Earth and Life Studies
A Consensus Study Report of
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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This study was supported by Grant #14-9795-2254-GR between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-45831-3
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-45831-5
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/24750
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Cover photo courtesy of Mark Gocke, Wyoming Game & Fish Department.
Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Revisiting Brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/24750.
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COMMITTEE ON REVISITING BRUCELLOSIS IN THE GREATER YELLOWSTONE AREA1
TERRY F. MCELWAIN (NAM2), Washington State University
L. GARRY ADAMS, Texas A&M University
CYNTHIA L. BALDWIN, University of Massachusetts Amherst
MICHAEL B. COUGHENOUR, Colorado State University
PAUL C. CROSS, U.S. Geological Survey
RICHARD D. HORAN, Michigan State University
DAVID A. JESSUP, University of California, Davis
DUSTIN P. OEDEKOVEN, South Dakota Animal Industry Board
DAVID W. PASCUAL, University of Florida
VALERIE E. RAGAN, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine
GLYNN T. TONSOR, Kansas State University
PEGGY TSAI YIH, Study Director and Senior Program Officer
JENNA BRISCOE, Research Assistant
ROBIN A. SCHOEN, Director, Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources
1 Staff and affiliations current as of 2015.
2 National Academy of Medicine.
BOARD ON AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES1
CHARLES W. RICE, Kansas State University, Manhattan
SUSAN CAPALBO, Oregon State University, Corvallis
GAIL CZARNECKI-MAULDEN, Nestlé Purina PetCare, St. Louis, MO
GEBISA EJETA, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
ROBERT B. GOLDBERG (NAS2), University of California, Los Angeles
FRED GOULD (NAS2), North Carolina State University, Raleigh
MOLLY M. JAHN, University of Wisconsin–Madison
ROBBIN S. JOHNSON, Cargill Foundation, Wayzata, MN
JAMES W. JONES (NAE3), University of Florida, Gainesville
A.G. KAWAMURA, Solutions from the Land, Washington, DC
STEPHEN S. KELLEY, North Carolina State University, Raleigh
JULIA L. KORNEGAY, North Carolina State University, Raleigh
JIM E. RIVIERE (NAM4), Kansas State University, Manhattan
ROBIN A. SCHOEN, Director
CAMILLA YANDOC ABLES, Senior Program Officer
JENNA BRISCOE, Research Assistant
KARA N. LANEY, Senior Program Officer
PEGGY TSAI YIH, Senior Program Officer
1 Staff and affiliations current as of 2015.
2 National Academy of Sciences.
3 National Academy of Engineering.
4 National Academy of Medicine.
This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We thank the following individuals for their review of this report:
Mark S. Boyce, University of Alberta
Norman Cheville, Iowa State University
Andrew Dobson, Princeton University
Francis D. Galey, University of Wyoming
Robert Garrott, Montana State University
Colin Gillin, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
N. Thompson Hobbs, Colorado State University
Bret Marsh, Indiana State Board of Animal Health
Michael W. Miller, Colorado Parks & Wildlife
Robert Nordgren, Merial
Daniel O’Brien, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Gary Splitter, University of Wisconsin
Michael Springborn, University of California, Davis
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Gordon H. Orians, University of Washington, and James E. Womack, Texas A&M University. They are responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.
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With a global incidence of more than half a million human cases annually, brucellosis is a zoonotic disease of public health concern for much of the world. Fortunately, due in large part to the brucellosis eradication program begun by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) more than 80 years ago, the incidence of human brucellosis in the United States is now less than 0.5 cases/million population, a dramatic reduction from the high of more than 6,000 cases annually in 1947. Unlike in 1947, nearly all U.S. human brucellosis cases are now caused by Brucella melitensis, acquired while traveling outside the United States, not B. abortus.
The only remaining U.S. reservoir of B. abortus infection is in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA), where wildlife-transmitted cases spill over into domestic cattle and domestic bison. Yet this spillover is now occurring with increasing frequency, raising the possibility of brucellosis reoccurrence outside the GYA. This report examines the changing dynamic of brucellosis in the GYA, providing a comprehensive update of what is new since the 1998 National Research Council report Brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area and exploring various options for addressing the challenge of brucellosis disease management.
Much has changed in the 20 years since the previous report. There is now clear evidence that transmission of B. abortus to domestic livestock in the GYA has come from infected elk, not bison, posing greater challenges for control of transmission to domestic species. This is coupled with significant changes in land use around the GYA, and the increasing value that the public places on our wildlands and the wildlife they support. Indeed, change has been the norm, even during the course of the committee’s deliberations. New cases have been recognized in cattle and domestic bison since the start of the study. Policies of state agencies trying to counter the increasing incidence of brucellosis have changed. The study was conducted during the 100th anniversary year of the national park system, with Yellowstone National Park (YNP) the “granddaddy” of them all. And the bison, an icon of YNP and a key player in brucellosis control, was officially designated as our national mammal, further raising the visibility of brucellosis management efforts in the GYA.
The committee gained insight from invited speakers and an impassioned audience expressing multiple perspectives in public meetings. In addition to the study’s sponsor, USDA, stakeholders range from additional federal and state agencies to nongovernmentalorganizations, and from the public who gain value and satisfaction from our wildlands and the animals they support to those who have for generations derived their livelihoods from privately owned land in and around the GYA. All are impacted by efforts to manage brucellosis caused by B. abortus in the last remaining disease reservoir. There is a complexity and an interdependency in addressing the issue that mirrors the complexity of the ecosystem in which brucellosis occurs and which defies both simple solutions and a perfect solution. The committee has taken an objective, science-based approach in addressing its Statement of Task and presents this report as a comprehensive starting point for discussions among all stakeholders to address a problem of increasing concern. We trust this report will be helpful in those deliberations.
I would like to express thanks to all the committee members for their dedication and perseverance during the long course of the committee’s deliberations and writing. On behalf of the committee, sincere thanks are also extended to the study director, Peggy Tsai Yih, who did an outstanding job of directing a challenging task, and to Robin A. Schoen and Jenna Briscoe, who provided background support for the study. As always, a National Academies report does not simply happen de novo and capable hands guide
the process throughout. Lastly, the committee thanks all those who provided input during multiple public meetings and to those who provided answers in response to what may at times have seemed like an endless list of questions and requests. We are grateful for your efforts in supporting this report.
Terry F. McElwain, Chair
Committee on Revisiting Brucellosis
in the Greater Yellowstone Area
BOXES, FIGURES, AND TABLES