Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Studying Island Fox Blood

What is the biologist doing to that island fox?

Blood samples play an important role in not only monitoring island fox health, but also in alerting biologists to potential diseases island foxes may have been exposed to. When an animal comes in contact with a disease, their immune system creates antibodies to fight against the disease threat. 

By testing island fox blood samples for titers, levels of antibodies, biologist can determine if island foxes have encountered new disease threats. They also can tell if individuals are carrying antibodies from vaccinations at high enough levels to protect them against know diseases like rabies and distemper.  

Serology, studying blood samples, may not sound very exciting, but it is very important to the recovery of the endangered island fox. Thanks to a $2,000 grant from our friends at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, island fox blood samples taken during annual fall health checks last fall will be examined for antibodies to various canine diseases (distemper, parvo, etc.).