Send to

Choose Destination
Appl Environ Microbiol. 2001 Mar;67(3):1218-24.

Experimental and field studies of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in white-tailed deer.

Author information

Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602, USA.


Studies were conducted to evaluate fecal shedding of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in a small group of inoculated deer, determine the prevalence of the bacterium in free-ranging white-tailed deer, and elucidate relationships between E. coli O157:H7 in wild deer and domestic cattle at the same site. Six young, white-tailed deer were orally administered 10(8) CFU of E. coli O157:H7. Inoculated deer were shedding E. coli O157:H7 by 1 day postinoculation (DPI) and continued to shed decreasing numbers of the bacteria throughout the 26-day trial. Horizontal transmission to an uninoculated deer was demonstrated. Although E. coli O157:H7 bacteria were recovered from the gastrointestinal tracts of deer necropsied from 4 to 26 DPI, attaching and effacing lesions were not apparent in any deer. Results are similar to those of inoculation studies in calves and sheep. In field studies, E. coli O157 was not detected in 310 fresh deer fecal samples collected from the ground. It was detected in feces, but not in meat, from 3 of 469 free-ranging deer in 1997. In 1998, E. coli O157 was not detected in 140 deer at the single positive site found in 1997; however, it was recovered from 13 of 305 dairy and beef cattle at the same location. Isolates of E. coli O157:H7 from deer and cattle at this site differed with respect to pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns and genes encoding Shiga toxins. The low overall prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 and the identification of only one site with positive deer suggest that wild deer are not a major reservoir of E. coli O157:H7 in the southeastern United States. However, there may be individual locations where deer sporadically harbor the bacterium, and venison should be handled with the same precautions recommended for beef, pork, and poultry.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center