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Campylobacter in Deer Feces


Intensive deer farming can cause environmental issues, mainly by its impact on soils and water quality. In particular, there is a risk to the microbial quality of water, as high quantities of suspended sediment and fecal bacteria can enter into water systems.

In a study recently published in the Journal of Environmental Quality, researchers analyzed the feces of farmed red deer from Canterbury and Southland with respect to the presence of Campylobacter, Enterococci, Escherichia coli and Yersinia.

Enterococci and E. coli were analyzed were also found in all samples, with Yersinia isolated in five of 42 composite samples. Twenty-seven of the 206 total samples contained Campylobacter. This study was the first to quantify the concentration of Campylobacter present in healthy deer farmed in New Zealand.

Campylobacter prevalence in deer feces is low compared to other livestock. However, the average daily excretion of Campylobacter-positive deer and sheep is comparable. Farmed deer also displayed a higher prevalence of Campylobacter than wild deer investigated in other studies.

Deer feces are a potential source of human campylobacteriosis, with all genotypes isolated also previously observed among human cases. The fecal output from deer should be regarded as potentially pathogenic to humans and therefore be appropriately managed, particularly in restricting access of deer to waterways.

Read the open access paper in JEQ.