We evaluated susceptibility of Dall sheep (Ovis dalli dalli) to bacterial pneumonia induced by two strains of Pasteurella haemolytica of domestic sheep origin by evaluating the sensitivity of blood neutrophils of eight Dall sheep to lysis by cytotoxins of P haemolytica, and by intratracheal inoculation of three Dall sheep, two bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), and two domestic sheep with 3.7 × 106 or 2.5 × 107 colony forming units of P haemolytica. Neutrophils from the Dall sheep were more sensitive to lysis by cytotoxins from supernatants of a P. haemolytica, biotype A, serotype 2 (A2), of domestic sheep origin, than were neutrophils from six bighorn sheep. This cytotoxic bacterium was the same isolate that was used for intratracheal inoculation of two Dall sheep and two domestic sheep. Inoculation of this cytotoxic P. haemolytica A2 resulted in fatal fibrinopurulent pleuropneumonia in the first Dall sheep within 24 hr of inoculation, and pneumonic lesions in the second Dall sheep before it was euthanized 52 hr after inoculation. This strain of P. haemolytica A2 did not cause respiratory disease when inoculated into two domestic sheep. A noncytotoxic strain of P. haemolytica, biotype T, serotype 3,4,10 of domestic sheep origin did not result in pneumonia in the third Dall sheep or two bighorn sheep. Prior to inoculation, P. haemolytica, biotype T isolates were obtained from all three Dall sheep, but none of these isolates was cytotoxic. At necropsy, cytotoxic P. haemolytica A2 was isolated from lungs and other tissues of the two pneumonic Dall sheep. Based on these results, we conclude that Dall sheep appear to be at least as sensitive as bighorn sheep to pneumonia caused by P. haemolytica A2 of domestic sheep origin. Because in vitro and in vivo results appear closely correlated in this and other studies, we believe with additional evaluation and standardization, neutrophil cytotoxicity tests may serve as a substitute for live animal challenges in future studies of pathogenic P. haemolytica in wild sheep.
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Vol. 32 • No. 4