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An outbreak of meningo-encephalitis in fallow deer caused by Listeria monocytogenes
  1. L Eriksen,
  2. HE Larsen,
  3. T Christiansen,
  4. MM Jensen and
  5. E Eriksen
  1. Institute of Internal Medicine, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Frederiksberg C, Denmark.


An outbreak of listeric meningo-encephalitis occurred in a population of 1800 fallow deer (Dama dama) in a park during the winter and early spring of 1985 to 1986. Listeriosis was diagnosed in 41 of 42 fallow deer that showed the typical central nervous system signs of circling disease or were found dead. The diagnosis was verified by bacteriological examination of the brains of 35 animals. In five of the seven remaining cases listeriosis was diagnosed by histological examination, and in one animal by clinical signs alone. Listeria monocytogenes was isolated in three of 23 soil samples taken from the park. In addition, L monocytogenes was isolated from the intestinal contents of apparently normal fallow deer. Fifty isolates from animals and soil were serotyped and all of them belonged to serovar 4b except one from brain (serovar 1/2b) and three from intestinal contents (serovar 1/2a). In phage typing of 54 isolates, the 35 isolates from the brain and spleen of diseased animals belonged to the same lysovar, as did most isolates from other sources, but strains from intestinal contents belonged to three other phage types. No external source of L monocytogenes was demonstrated in the outbreak and stress due to the poor beech-mast crop, an increased stocking rate and a sudden change in the weather are suspected as predisposing factors.

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