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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Survival of Mycobacterium Bovis on Feedstuffs Commonly Used As Supplemental Feed for White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus Virginianus)

Authors
item Palmer, Mitchell
item Whipple, Diana

Submitted to: Journal of Wildlife Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 2, 2006
Publication Date: October 1, 2006
Citation: Palmer, M.V., Whipple, D.L. 2006. Survival of Mycobacterium bovis on Feedstuffs Commonly Used as Supplemental Feed for White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Journal of Wildlife Diseases. 42(4):853-858.

Interpretive Summary: Recently, tuberculosis has become established in free-ranging white-tailed deer in northeastern Michigan. Although, it is generally accepted that deer were originally infected tuberculosis through contact with cattle, deer to deer and deer to cattle transmission have been confirmed. The widespread practice of supplemental feeding of white-tailed deer during the winter is believed to contribute to disease transmission between deer. The current study was conducted to determine the ability of the bacteria that causes tuberculosis to survive on various feedstuffs commonly used as supplemental feeds for deer in northeast Michigan (i.e. apples, corn, carrots, sugar beets, potatoes and hay) and the effect of temperature on survival. The bacteria survived on all feedstuffs at all temperatures tested for at least 7 days. At -20 degrees C (freezer temperature) the bacteria could be recovered from all feedstuffs at the termination of the study at 120 days. Additionally, the bacteria could be recovered from samples of apples, corn, hay and potatoes at 4 degrees C (refrigeration temperature) at 120 days. At 20 degrees C (room temperature) recovery was still possible from samples of apples at 120 days. This study suggests that bacterial contamination of feedstuffs by infected deer could act as a source of indirect transmission of tuberculosis to other deer or cattle as the bacteria are able to survive in temperatures similar to those recorded during the winter months in northeastern Michigan. Current efforts to ban or control supplemental feeding of deer should have a positive effect on decreasing tuberculosis transmission between deer.

Technical Abstract: Recently, Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis, has become established in free-ranging white-tailed deer in northeastern Michigan. Although, it is generally accepted that deer were originally infected with M. bovis through contact with cattle, deer to deer and deer to cattle transmission have been confirmed. The widespread practice of supplemental feeding of white-tailed deer during the winter is believed to contribute to transmission of M. bovis between deer. The current study was conducted to determine the ability of M. bovis to survive on various feedstuffs commonly used as supplemental feeds for deer in northeast Michigan (i.e. apples, corn, carrots, sugar beets, potatoes and hay) and the effect of temperature on survival. Mycobacterium bovis survived on all feedstuffs at all temperatures tested for at least 7 days. At -20 degrees C M. bovis could be recovered from all feedstuffs at the termination of the study at 120 days. Additionally, M. bovis could be recovered from samples of apples, corn, hay and potatoes at 4 degrees C at 120 days. At 20 degrees C M. bovis could still be isolated from samples of apples at 120 days. This study suggests that contamination of feedstuffs by M. bovis infected deer could act as a source of indirect transmission to other deer or cattle as M. bovis is able to survive in temperatures similar to those recorded during the winter months in northeastern Michigan. Current efforts to ban or control supplemental feeding of deer should have a positive effect on decreasing transmission of M. bovis between deer.

Last Modified: 7/24/2014
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