We collected blood and serum from 155 brown bears ( Ursus arctos) inhabiting five locations in Alaska during 2013-16 and tested samples for evidence of prior exposure to a suite of bacterial, viral, and parasitic agents. Antibody seroprevalence among Alaska brown bears was estimated to be 15% for Brucella spp., 10% for Francisella tularensis, 7% for Leptospira spp., 18% for canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1), 5% for canine distemper virus (CDV), 5% for canine parvovirus, 5% for influenza A virus (IAV), and 44% for Toxoplasma gondii. No samples were seropositive for antibodies to Trichinella spp. Point estimates of prior exposure to pathogens among brown bears at previously unsampled locations generally fell within the range of estimates for previously or contemporaneously sampled bears in Alaska. Statistical support was found for variation in antibody seroprevalence among bears by location or age cohort for CAV-1, CDV, IAV, and Toxoplasma gondii. There was limited concordance in comparisons between our results and previous serosurveys regarding spatial and age-related trends in antibody seroprevalence among Alaska brown bears suggestive of temporal variation. However, we found evidence that the seroprevalence of CAV-1 antibodies is consistently high in bears inhabiting SW Alaska and the cumulative probability of exposure may increase with age. We found evidence for seroconversion or seroreversion to six different infectious agents in one or more bears. Results of this study increase our collective understanding of disease risk to both Alaska brown bear populations and humans that utilize this resource.
Foodborne infections are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, and foodborne parasitic diseases, though not as widespread as bacterial and viral infections, are common on all continents and in most ecosystems, including arctic, temperate, and tropical regions. Outbreaks of disease resulting from foodstuffs contaminated by parasitic protozoa have become increasingly recognized as a problem in the United States and globally. Increased international trade in food products has made movement of these organisms across national boundaries more frequent, and the risks associated with infections have become apparent in nations with well-developed food safety apparatus in place.