What is it about?

This article compiles results of reports on any health-related components of muskrat, including infection, contamination and mortality. Cyanobacteria (from algae blooms) and bacterial infections were the main cause of mortality in muskrats in North America. The objective of the study was to identify existing knowledge of muskrat health and to identify gaps in surveillance that limit our understanding of muskrat health as a whole.

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Why is it important?

Muskrat populations are in severe decline across much of their native range in North America with many theories as to why abundance is dropping. This article gives insight into how disease, contamination and infection may be impacting muskrat survival and identifies missing information that may aid in better understanding factors affecting the persistence of this species.


I am hoping this article provides researchers a launching point for future studies to fill in some of the blanks that we've identified through this work. There is still a lot that we don't fully understand, particularly about contamination and its role in semi-aquatic mammal health, that would be incredibly helpful to know in our effort to identify risks to these animals.

Laken Ganoe
University of Rhode Island

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Surveillance for diseases, pathogens, and toxicants of muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) in Pennsylvania and surrounding regions, PLoS ONE, December 2021, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0260987.
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