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Microb Ecol. 2013 Nov;66(4):813-22. doi: 10.1007/s00248-013-0273-5. Epub 2013 Aug 11.

Isolation and characterization of Brachyspira spp. including "Brachyspira hampsonii" from lesser snow geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) in the Canadian Arctic.

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Department of Veterinary Microbiology, University of Saskatchewan, 52 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5B4, Canada.


Brachyspira is associated with diarrhea and colitis in pigs, and control of these pathogens is complicated by their complex ecology. Identification of wildlife reservoirs of Brachyspira requires the discrimination of colonized animals and those simply contaminated through environmental exposure. Lesser snow geese (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) were sampled in the Canadian arctic during the summer of 2011, and cloacal swabs were cultured on selective media. Brachyspira isolates were obtained from 15/170 (8.8 %) samples, and 12/15 isolates were similar to isolates previously recovered from pigs, including "Brachyspira hampsonii", a recently characterized species associated with dysentery-like disease in pigs in North America. A pilot inoculation study with one strongly β-hemolytic B. hampsonii isolate resulted in fecal shedding of the isolate by inoculated pigs for up to 14 days post-inoculation, but no severe clinical disease. Results of this study indicate that lesser snow geese can be colonized by Brachyspira strains that can also colonize pigs. Millions of lesser snow geese (C. caerulescens caerulescens) travel through the major pork-producing areas of Canada and the USA during their annual migration, making them a potential factor in the continental distribution of these bacteria.

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