Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version



A dissertation submitted to Michigan State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.


In 1994 bovine tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis) was discovered in a single free ranging white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in northeastern Michigan (Deer Management Unit 452 @MU 452)). By the end of the 2000 hunting season, 325+ deer within the DMU 452 had been detected with M. bovis and it was generally believed that the disease had radiated from a single focus of infection. However, the presence of three TB positive deer discovered in 1999 well outside of DMU 452 suggested that M. bovis may be endemic at extremely low levels in Michigan white-tailed deer.

The primary mode of deer-to-deer transmission of M. bovis is likely from snout-to- snout (face-to-face) contact and aerosol exposure at feeding and baiting stations. Feeding behavior of white-tailed deer at fall bait and winter feeding stations was observed during 936 observation periods. Throughout two winters (1996/1997 and 1997/1998) of observation periods (355 hours) we recorded over 5,900 face-to-face (F2F) contacts. Throughout two falls (1997 and 1998) of observation periods (404 hours) we recorded over 2,990 F2F contacts.