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Mechanical transmission of antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella enterica by starlings to livestock feeding systems

J. C. Carlson, D. R. Hyatt, J. W. Ellis, D. R. Pipkin, A. M. Mangan, M. Russell and others

BIRD-LIVESTOCK interactions have been implicated as potential sources for bacteria within concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). In particular, European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) are known to contaminate CAFOs with Salmonella enterica through their faecal waste while they consume cattle feed and water. However, ecological interactions associated with microbiological contamination of CAFOs by wild birds are currently poorly understood, as it has been found that S enterica serotypes recovered from starling gastrointestinal tracts did not correspond well to the serotypes recovered from cattle feed and water troughs. The aim of this study on a CAFO in Texas in the USA was to determine if starlings can mechanically move S enterica in cattle faeces on their feet and feathers to cattle feed and water troughs.

One hundred starlings landing on cattle pens and pen lanes were shot and external wash samples were obtained by washing the carcases with 50 ml of buffered peptone water. Lower gastrointestinal tracts were removed from the starlings for sampling, and 100 samples from animal pens (ie, cattle faecal samples and samples from cattle feed and water …

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