Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version



Pruvot et al.: Pathogens at the livestock-wildlife interface in Western Alberta: does transmission route matter? Veterinary Research 2014 45:18.



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In southwestern Alberta, interactions between beef cattle and free-ranging elk (Cervus elaphus) may provide opportunities for pathogen transmission. To assess the importance of the transmission route on the potential for interspecies transmission, we conducted a cross-sectional study on four endemic livestock pathogens with three different transmission routes: Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus and Bovine Herpesvirus 1 (predominantly direct transmission), Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) (indirect fecal-oral transmission), Neospora caninum (indirect transmission with definitive host). We assessed the occurrence of these pathogens in 28 cow-calf operations exposed or non-exposed to elk, and in 10 elk herds exposed or not to cattle. We characterized the effect of species commingling as a risk factor of pathogen exposure and documented the perceived risk of pathogen transmission at this wildlife-livestock interface in the rural community. Herpesviruses found in elk were elk-specific gamma-herpesviruses unrelated to cattle viruses. Pestivirus exposure in elk could not be ascertained to be of livestock origin. Evidence of MAP circulation was found in both elk and cattle, but there was no statistical effect of the species commingling. Finally, N. caninum was more frequently detected in elk exposed to cattle and this association was still significant after adjustment for herd and sampling year clustering, and individual elk age and sex. Only indirectly transmitted pathogens co-occurred in cattle and elk, indicating the potential importance of the transmission route in assessing the risk of pathogen transmission in multi-species grazing systems.