Prevalence of Trueperella pyogenes and other bacterial flora on white-tailed deer in Georgia
Belser, Emily Harvin
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The expansion of human populations coupled with urban/suburban wildlife issues provide increased opportunity for contact with wildlife, raising concern for associated zoonotic diseases. Although it is a rare cause of disease in humans, Trueperella pyogenes is a common cause of cranial abscessation (CA) in white-tailed deer. Therefore, I investigated the prevalence of T. pyogenes as well as the occurrence of CA in hunter-killed deer from 29 sites across all physiographic provinces in Georgia during Fall 2011 and 2012. I sampled the forehead, lingual, and nasal linings from 689 deer and used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to determine presence or absence of T. pyogenes. Simultaneously, I catalogued the bacterial flora from 39 deer from 2 separate sites by plating bacteria onto blood agar, categorizing them based on biochemical properties using the bioMerieux Vitek 2 system, and then genetically sequencing after PCR. I identified a total of 60 species of bacteria including 342 Gram-positive and 93 Gram-negative isolates. Although most species isolated from deer were non-pathogenic bacteria, good hygiene is recommended when handling deer. I also demonstrated that T. pyogenes prevalence was a significant predictor for the occurrence of CA across Georgia. I found no differences in the T. pyogenes prevalence on the nose, tongue, or overall, based on gender or age. However, prevalence on the forehead differed between males and females as well as by age, suggesting that behavior related to reproduction or physiologic characteristics may predispose mature, male white-tailed deer to this pathogenic bacterium and thus CA.