Exposure to Infectious Agents in Dogs in Remote Coastal British Columbia: Possible Sentinels of Diseases in Wildlife and Humans

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Ranked among the top threats to conservation worldwide, infectious disease is of particular concern for wild canids because domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) may serve as sources and reservoirs of infection. On British Columbia’s largely undeveloped but rapidly changing central and north coasts, little is known about diseases in wolves (Canis lupus) or other wildlife. However, several threats exist for transfer of diseases among unvaccinated dogs and wolves. To gain baseline data on infectious agents in this area, including those with zoonotic potential, we collected blood and stool samples from 107 dogs in 5 remote communities in May and September 2007. Serology revealed that the dogs had been exposed to canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus, Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine respiratory coronavirus, and Leptospira interrogans. No dogs showed evidence of exposure to Ehrlichia canis, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Borrelia burgdorferi, Dirofilaria immitis, or Cryptococcus gattii. Of 75 stool samples, 31 contained at least 1 parasitic infection, including Taeniid tapeworms, the nematodes Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonina, and the protozoans Isospora sp., Giardia sp., Cryptosporidium sp., and Sarcocystis sp. This work provides a sound baseline for future monitoring of infectious agents that could affect dogs, sympatric wild canids, other wildlife, and humans.