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Serosurveillance for Livestock Pathogens in Free-Ranging Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)


Routine disease surveillance has been conducted for decades in mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in California for pathogens shared between wildlife and domestic ruminants that may have implications for the animal production industry and wildlife health. Deer sampled from 1990 to 2007 (n = 2,619) were tested for exposure to six pathogens: bluetongue virus (BTV), epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV), bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV), Leptospira spp., Anaplasma spp. and Brucella spp. We evaluated the relationship between exposure to these pathogens and demographic risk factors to identify broad patterns in seroprevalence across a large temporal and spatial scale. The overall seroprevalence for the entire study period was 13.4% for BTV, 16.8% for EHDV, 17.1% for BVDV, 6.5% for Leptospira spp., 0.2% for Brucella spp., and 17% for Anaplasma spp. Antibodies against BTV and EHDV were most prevalent in the deer populations of southern California. Antibodies against Leptospira spp. and Anaplasma spp. were most prevalent in coastal and central northern California whereas antibodies against BVDV were most prevalent in central-eastern and northeastern California. The overall seroprevalence for Anaplasma spp. was slightly lower than detected in previous studies. North and central eastern California contains large tracts of federal land grazed by livestock; therefore, possible contact between deer and livestock could explain the high BVDV seroprevalence found in these areas. Findings from this study will help to establish baseline values for future comparisons of pathogen exposure in deer, inform on long-term trends in deer population health and provide relevant information on the distribution of diseases that are shared between wildlife and livestock.

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