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J Wildl Dis. 1988 Apr;24(2):299-307.

A survey of the prevalence of selected bacteria in wild birds.

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  • 1Department of Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin, Madison 53706.


We determined the prevalence of six genera of bacteria from a sample of 387 cloacal swabs from 364 passerines and woodpeckers. The prevalence of bacteria were as follows: Escherichia coli (1%), Pseudomonas spp. (22%), Salmonella spp. (0%), Staphylococcus spp. (15%), Streptococcus spp. (18%), and Yersinia spp. (1%). The prevalence of Streptococcus spp. was higher in omnivorous species than in granivorous species (20% versus 8%). Individuals captured at feeders had a lower prevalence of both Streptococcus spp. (15% versus 33%) and Escherichia coli (0.5% versus 4%) than birds that did not have access to feeders. These differences are probably not due to the feeder per se, but instead to other site related differences. The prevalence of bacteria did not differ between male and female black-capped chickadees, Parus atricapillus. For 279 color marked black-capped chickadees, we calculated the cumulative mortality rate during 12 wk following swabbing. Although the cumulative mortality rates of infected birds were consistently higher than the rates of non-infected birds, none of these differences were significant. Infections may cause slight reductions in survival rates, but we were not able to confirm this with our data.

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