Journal article

Investigating infectious disease threats to the recovery of the European polecat in Britain

Kari-Anne Heald, Caroline Millins, Andrew C Kitchener, Ashley C Banyard, Georg Hantke, Katherine A Sainsbury, Michael McDonald, Anna Meredith



The European polecat (Mustela putorius) almost became extinct in Britain in the early twentieth century, but populations are now recovering. As seen in other endangered carnivore populations, disease is one potential threat to recovery. This study assessed exposure of wild polecats (n = 149) to three, multi-host pathogens which could limit reproduction and/or cause morbidity and mortality. Serum, lung and brain samples were collected from polecats which died from 2011 to 2016 across Britain. Exposure to Toxoplasma gondii and 12 Leptospira serovars was assessed serologically by antibody detection using the latex agglutination test and microscopic agglutination test, respectively, and the pres..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Funding Acknowledgements

The diagnostic testing was supported by Dr. Johnny Birks, The Blodwen Lloyd Binns Bequest Fund of the Glasgow Natural History Society and The Zebra Foundation of the British Veterinary Zoological Society. The teeth ageing analysis was funded by a Peoples' Trust for Endangered Species grant. The funders' sole role for the project was to support it financially.