U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Published in AVIAN DISEASES 53:544–551, 2009.


The prevalence of Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., and Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis isolated from the feces of wild European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) humanely trapped at a feedlot in central Kansas was assessed. All E. coli and Salmonella isolates recovered were tested for antimicrobial susceptibility using National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System panels and the E. coli isolates were classified as to their content of genes associated with pathogenic E. coli of birds and cattle, including cvaC, iroN2, ompTp, hlyF2, eitC, iss, iutA, ireA, papC, stxI, stxII, sta, K99, F41, and eae. Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis were not detected and Salmonella was isolated from only three samples, two of which displayed antimicrobial resistance. Approximately half of the E. coli isolates were resistant to antimicrobial agents with 96% showing resistance to tetracycline. Only one isolate was positive for a single gene associated with bovine pathogenic E. coli. An interesting finding of this study was that 5% of the E. coli isolates tested met the criteria established for identification as avian pathogenic E. coli (APEC). Thus these findings suggest that starlings are not a significant source of Salmonella spp., Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, E. coli O157, or other shiga toxin–producing E. coli in this feedlot. However, they may have the potential to spread APEC, an important pathogen of poultry and a potential pathogen to human beings.