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Frank, E.; Bonke, R.; Drees, N.; Heurich, M.; Maertlbauer, E. and Gareis, M. (2019): Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) shedding in a wild roe deer population. In: Veterinary Microbiology, Vol. 239, 108479

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Worldwide infections by Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in humans have been reported after consumption of mainly beef, but also deer meat. Not only the consumption of contaminated deer meat represents a risk, but also the transmission of STEC between deer and domestic animals should be considered. Within the framework of a telemetry study of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) the aim was to analyse the occurrence of STEC. Due to the chance to sample some animals several times it was possible to obtain data on the repeated shedding of STEC in roe deer. In total 124 faeces or rectal swabs of 77 live trapped roe deer were collected. The isolates obtained were characterized for six subtypes, different virulence genes, the so-called top-five serogroups, phylogenetic groups, PFGE-types and antimicrobial susceptibilities. The majority of roe deer were six-positive whenever sampled. Twenty-eight animals were sampled more than once and were used to examine the duration of shedding STEC. The time interval of 6 persistently six-negative tested animals was between 6 and 440d (median 49d, interquartile range (IQR) 17-258d). Ten animals excreted undistinguishable STEC strains in intervals between 4 and 778d (median 42d, IQR 22-79d). Most of the isolates were stx2b-positive, eae-negative and frequently ehlyA-positive. None of the isolates belonged to serogroup 026, 0103, 0111, 0145 and 0157, respectively. All isolates were sensitive to the antimicrobial substances tested. Although the duration of each shedding event could not be determined the results indicate long-term excretion of STEC in roe deer. This is an important consideration for the observance of good hygiene practice while field dressing of deer and preparing deer meat.

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