My specific interest is in zoonotic multi-host pathogens that threaten wildlife, domestic animal and human health, and in understanding the dynamics of these pathogens at an ecosystem level. I am particularly concerned about the impact of these pathogens on populations of conservation importance. These interests have driven me to pursue a career in conservation and disease ecology, and have guided me through an undergraduate major in ecology and evolutionary biology, veterinary school and subsequent small animal practice, graduate school (PhD) in ecology, and ongoing research studying the ecology of infectious diseases in wildlife populations. As a graduate student my research focused on understanding risk factors of exposure to canid pathogens such as rabies virus and canine distemper virus in wild African carnivores and on identifying potential reservoirs from which these pathogens were spilling over.
My current research focuses on understanding the dynamics of leptospirosis in the California coastal ecosystem with an emphasis on understanding the dynamics of leptospirosis in the California sea lion population. More recently I have also become involved in understanding the dynamics of leptospirosis in the endangered Santa Rosa Island fox population.
With regards to the California sea lion system, I am working with Jamie Lloyd-Smith, Chris Strelioff, and many collaborators outside UCLA and am focusing on identifying factors influencing the severity of seasonal epidemics and the long-term persistence of the pathogen in the wild sea lion population. Using both empirical and modeling approaches I am assessing whether chronic carriage and shedding of the pathogen may be responsible for its long-term persistence. The results of this study will inform management of stranded and free-ranging California sea lions, and may influence the management of other susceptible species that share the marine and coastal environment such as marine mammals, domestic dogs and humans.
With regards to the Santa Rosa Island fox system, I am working with Angela Guglielmino and Jamie Lloyd-Smith towards understanding emergence and possibly persistence of the disease in this population and in the Santa Rosa Island ecosystem. Results from this study are interesting from a purely scientific standpoint as it is a perfect small island ecosystem within which we can assess the dynamics of a multi-host population. However, there is also an important conservation aspect to this work as the Santa Rosa Island fox is endangered and results from this study will guide management of this sensitive population.
A.L. Graham, D.H. Nussey, J.O. Lloyd-Smith, D. Longbottom, M. Maley, J.M. Pemberton, J.G. Pilkington, K.C. Prager, L. Smith, K.A. Watt, K. Wilson, N.T. Mc and F. Brulisauer. (2016). Exposure to viral and bacterial pathogens among Soay sheep (Ovis aries) of the St Kilda archipelago. Epidemiology & Infection pp. 1-10, DOI 10.1017/S0950268816000017.
C.A. Burge, C.S. Friedman, R. Getchell, M. House, K.D. Lafferty, L.D. Mydlarz, K.C. Prager, K.P. Sutherland, T. Renault, I. Kiryu and R. Vega-Thurber. (2016). Complementary approaches to diagnosing marine diseases: a union of the modern and the classic. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences.
Prager KC, Alt DP, Buhnerkempe MG, Greig DJ, Galloway RL, Wu Q, Gulland FMD, & Lloyd-Smith JO. (2015). Antibiotic efficacy in eliminating leptospiruria in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) stranding with leptospirosis stranding with leptospirosis: 14 cases (2010-2011). Aquatic Mammals 41(2): 203-212. DOI: 10.1578/AM.41.2.2015.203.
Burge CA, Eakin CM, Friedman CS, Froelich B, Hershberger PK, Hofmann EE, Petes LE, Prager KC, Weil E, Willis BL, Ford SE, & Harvell CD. (2013). Climate Change Influences on Marine Infectious Diseases: Implications for Management and Society. Ann Rev Mar Sci 6:249-77. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-marine-010213-135029.
Wu Q, Prager KC, Goldstein T, Alt DP, Galloway RL, Zuerner, RL, Lloyd-Smith JO, & Schwacke L. (2014). Development of a real-time PCR for the detection of pathogenic Leptospira spp. in California sea lions. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 110(3): 165-172. DOI:10.3354/dao02752.
Prager KC, Greig DJ, Alt DP, Galloway RL, Hornsby RL, Palmer LJ, Soper J, Wu Q, Zuerner RL, Gulland FMD, Lloyd-Smith JO. (2013). Asymptomatic and chronic carriage of Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). Veterinary Microbiology 164(0): 177-83. DOI: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2013.01.032.
Prager KC, Mazet JAK, Dubovi EJ, Frank L, Munson L, Wagner AP, et al. (2013). Rabies virus and canine distemper virus in wild and domestic carnivores in Northern Kenya: Are domestic dogs the reservoir? EcoHealth 9(4):483-98. DOI:10.1007/s10393-013-0815-9.
Prager KC, Mazet JAK, Munson L, Dubovi EJ, Szykman Gunther M, Davies-Mostert HT, et al. (2012). The effect of protected areas on pathogen exposure in endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) populations. Biological Conservation. 150:15-22.
Bellan SE, Cizauskas CA, Miyen J, Ebersohn K, Kusters M, Prager KC, et al. (2012). Black-backed jackal exposure to rabies virus, canine distemper virus, and bacillus anthracis in Etosha National Park, Namibia. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 48:371-381.
Woodroffe R, Prager KC, Munson L, Conrad PA, Dubovi EJ, and Mazet JA (2012). Contact with domestic dogs increases pathogen exposure in endangered African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus). PloS ONE. 7:e30099.
Prager KC, Woodroffe R, Cameron A, and Haydon DT (2011). Vaccination strategies to conserve the endangered African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). Biological Conservation. 144:1940-1948.
Antunes A, Troyer JL, Roelke ME, Pecon-Slattery J, Packer C, Winterbach C, Hemson G, Frank L, Stander P, Siefert L, Driciru M, Funston PJ, Alexander KA, Prager KC, Mills G, Wildt D, Bush M, O'Brien SJ, Johnson WE (2008). The Evolutionary Dynamics of the Lion Panthera leo Revealed by Host and Viral Population Genomics. PLoS Genetics 4:e1000251.
Driciru M, Siefert L, Prager KC, Dubovi E, Sande R, Princee F, et al. (2006). A Serosurvey of Viral Infections in Lions (Panthera leo), from Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 42:667-671.
Prager, K.C., Alt, D.P., Buhnerkempe, M.G., Greig, D.J., Galloway, R.L., Wu, Q., Gulland, F.M., Lloyd-Smith, J.O. (In review). Antibiotic efficacy in eliminating leptospiruria in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) stranding with leptospirosis: 14 cases (2010-2011)
Prager, K.C., Greig, D.J., Alt, D.P., Galloway, R.L., Hornsby, R.L., Palmer, L.J., Soper, J., Wu, Q., Zuerner, R.L., Gulland, F.M., Lloyd-Smith, J.O., 2013. Asymptomatic and chronic carriage of Leptospira interrogans serovar Pomona in California sea lions (Zalophus californianus). Veterinary Microbiology 164, 177-183.
Prager, K.C., Mazet, J.A.K., Dubovi, E.J., Frank, L., Munson, L., Wagner, A.P., Woodroffe, R., 2013. Rabies virus and canine distemper virus in wild and domestic carnivores in Northern Kenya: Are domestic dogs the reservoir? Ecohealth.