Zoonotic vector-borne bacterial pathogens in California Mountain Lions (Puma concolor), 1987-2010

Yvette A. Girard, Pamela Swift, Bruno B Chomel, Rickie W. Kasten, Katryna Fleer, Janet E Foley, Steven G. Torres, Christine K Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Sera collected from 442 mountain lions in 48 California counties between the years of 1987 and 2010 were tested using immunofluorescence assays and agglutination tests for the presence of antibodies reactive to Yersinia pestis, Francisella tularensis, Bartonella henselae, Borrelia burgdorferi, and Anaplasma phagocytophilum antigens. Data were analyzed for spatial and temporal trends in seropositivity. Seroprevalences for B. burgdorferi (19.9%) and B. henselae (37.1%) were relatively high, with the highest exposure in the Central Coast region for B. henselae. B. henselae DNA amplified in mountain lion samples was genetically similar to human-derived Houston-1 and domestic cat-derived U4 B. henselae strains at the gltA and ftsZ loci. The statewide seroprevalences of Y. pestis (1.4%), F. tularensis (1.4%), and A. phagocytophilum (5.9%), were comparatively low. Sera from Y. pestis- and F. tularensis-seropositive mountain lions were primarily collected in the Eastern and Western Sierra Nevada, and samples reactive to Y. pestis antigen were collected exclusively from adult females. Adult age (≥2 years) was a risk factor for B. burgdorferi exposure. Over 70% of tested animals were killed on depredation permits, and therefore were active near areas with livestock and human residential communities. Surveillance of mountain lions for these bacterial vector-borne and zoonotic agents may be informative to public health authorities, and the data are useful for detecting enzootic and peridomestic pathogen transmission patterns, particularly in combination with molecular characterization of the infecting organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)913-921
Number of pages9
JournalVector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012


  • Anaplasma phagocytophilum
  • Bartonella henselae
  • Borrelia burgdorferi
  • California
  • Francisella tularensis
  • Mountain lion
  • Yersinia pestis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology
  • Virology


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