Mass Die-Off of Saiga Antelopes, Kazakhstan, 2015
In 2015, a mass die-off of ≈200,000 saiga antelope in central Kazakhstan was caused by hemorrhagic septicemia attributable to the bacterium Pasteurella multocida serotype B. Previous analyses have indicated that environmental triggers associated with weather conditions, specifically air moisture and temperature in the region of the saiga antelope calving during the 10-day period running up to the event, were critical to the proliferation of latent bacteria and were comparable to conditions accompanying historically similar die-offs in the same areas. We investigated whether additional viral or bacterial pathogens could be detected in samples from affected animals using 3 different high-throughput sequencing approaches. We did not identify pathogens associated with commensal bacterial opportunisms in blood, kidney, or lung samples and thus concluded that P. multocida serotype B was the primary cause of the disease.