Salmonella and Campylobacter spp. are highly zoonotic emerging pathogens capable of persistence within asymptomatic animal hosts and survival in water and fecal matter for long periods of time.1 Clinical implications of infection in animals may include acute severe gastroenteritis, abortion, and a chronic decrease in fecundity, which can pose a significant threat to endangered populations in captivity.2,3 The purpose of this project was to determine the role of housing, environment, or local wildlife on the persistence of Salmonella and Campylobacter spp. in fecal matter, food and water sources of non-domestic species. This study examined seasonal and clinical, fecal and environmental prevalence in semi-free ranging and indoor-housed groups of hoofstock (n=223), cranes (n=6), carnivores (n=14) and wildlife (n=15) species inhabiting the same areas at The Wilds over a year. Culture and identification utilized conventional approaches. Antimicrobial susceptibility was tested using Kirby-Bauer disc diffusion, following CLSI standards. Salmonella was found in fecal samples from 9.5% of animals housed indoors over winter and 1% of environmental samples from enclosures with culture-positive animals. Campylobacter spp. was found in 66% of animals housed indoors over winter, 47% of environmental samples, and 70% of animals in large yards with hutch shelters. Wildlife species which frequented areas with culture-positive managed species also cultured positive for both pathogens. Genotypic analysis was undertaken to identify epidemiologic relationships among bacterial strains. The findings underscore the high prevalence of these important zoonotic pathogens which could be of clinical significance to imperiled populations in captivity as well as to staff and visitors in zoological parks.
1. Buswell C. M., Y. M. Herlihy, L. M. Lawrence, et al. 1998. Extended survival and persistence of Campylobacter spp. in water and aquatic biofilms and their detection by immunofluorescent-antibody and -rDNA staining. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 64: 733–741.
2. Sahin O., P. J. Plummer, D. M. Jordan, et al. 2008. Emergence of a tetracycline-resistant Campylobacter jejuni clone associated with outbreaks of ovine abortion in the United States. J. Clin. Microbiol. 46(5): 1663–1671.
3. Kenney, D. E., J. Baier, and D. M. Getzy. 1997. Salmonellosis in captive black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis). J. Zoo Wildl. Med. 28: 307–311.