Survey of serum amyloid A and bacterial and viral frequency using qPCR levels in recently captured feral donkeys from Death Valley National Park (California).
Feral donkey removal from state land has raised concerns in terms of disease transmission between equine species. Disease outbreaks may occur as a result of the relocation of animals to new environments. Virus and bacteria DNA load and serum amyloid A derived from the pathogenic processes that they involve were measured in recently captured donkeys. Blood and nasal swabs were collected from 85 donkeys (Death Valley National Park, Shoshone, California); 24 were retested after 30/60 days in the Scenic (Arizona) long-term holding facility co-mingled with feral donkeys from Arizona and Utah. Quantitative Real-Time PCR (qPCR) was performed to detect viral and bacterial genomic material (equine influenza A [EIV], equine rhinitis A and B viruses, AHV-2, AHV-3, AHV-5 and EHV-1, EHV-4, Streptococcus equi subspecies equi and zooepidemicus,). Significant relations between behavior, body condition score, nasal discharge, and coughing were found in donkeys for which AHV-2 and Streptococcus zooepidemicus DNA was detected. Higher SAA concentrations were found in foals. AHV-2 and Streptococcus zooepidemicus DNA concentrations significantly differed between sampling moments (p < 0.05). In conclusion, donkeys do not appear to be a substantial risk for disease transmission to horses but could be if they carried strangles or other processes in which AHV-2 and Streptococcus zooepidemicus were involved.