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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Shared Feed As a Means of Deer to Deer Transmission of Mycobacterium Bovis

Authors
item Palmer, Mitchell
item Waters, Wade
item Whipple, Diana

Submitted to: Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 5, 2003
Publication Date: January 1, 2004
Citation: Palmer, M.V., Waters, W.R., Whipple, D.L. 2004. Shared feed as a means of deer to deer transmission of mycobacterium bovis. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 40:87-91.

Interpretive Summary: Supplemental feeding of deer is thought to contribute to deer to deer transmission of tuberculosis. To determine the ability of experimentally inoculated white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to transmit Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of tuberculosis in deer, to naïve deer through the sharing of feed, 4 deer were experimentally infected with M. bovis. On a daily basis, feed not consumed by inoculated deer after approximately 8 hours, was offered to 4 non-infected deer maintained in a separate pen where direct contact, aerosol transmission, or transmission through personnel were prevented. After 150 days, non-infected deer were euthanized and examined. All non-infected deer had lesions consistent with tuberculosis and M. bovis was isolated from various tissues. The most commonly affected tissues were the lung, tracheobronchial lymph nodes and mediastinal lymph nodes. This study demonstrates the potential for indirect transmission of M. bovis through the sharing of feed. Artificial feeding of deer in regions where M. bovis infection is endemic should be avoided, as both direct and indirect transmission through sharing of feed are enhanced. This information is important to wildlife and domestic animal health officials and supports regulations prohibiting the supplemental feeding of deer as a means of decreasing disease transmission.

Technical Abstract: To determine the ability of experimentally inoculated white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to transmit Mycobacterium bovis to naïve deer through the sharing of feed, 4 deer were intratonsillarly inoculated with 4 x 10**5 (colony forming units) CFU of M. bovis. On a daily basis, feed not consumed by inoculated deer after approximately 8 hours, was offered to 4 naïve deer maintained in a separate pen where direct contact, aerosol transmission, or transmission through personnel were prevented. After 150 days, naïve deer were euthanized and examined. All naïve deer had lesions consistent with tuberculosis and M. bovis was isolated from various tissues. The most commonly affected tissues were the lung, tracheobronchial lymph nodes and mediastinal lymph nodes. This study demonstrates the potential for indirect transmission of M. bovis through the sharing of feed. Artificial feeding of deer in regions where M. bovis infection is endemic should be avoided, as both direct and indirect transmission through sharing of feed are enhanced.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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