Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Free-ranging synanthropic birds (Ardea alba and Columba livia domestica) as carriers of Salmonella spp. and diarrheagenic Escherichia coli in the vicinity of an urban zoo.

Abstract

The presence of free-ranging urban birds is a risk factor for transmitting pathogens to captive animals and humans alike, including Salmonella spp. and diarrheagenic Escherichia coli. Cloacal swabs from 156 synanthropic Great egrets (Ardea alba) and feral pigeons (Columba livia domestica) that inhabit the surroundings of an urban zoo were processed for the identification of Salmonella spp. and diarrheagenic E. coli pathotypes. Bacterial species identification and genotypic characterization employed the matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry and PCR techniques, respectively, comparing their phylogenetic profiles through amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis. A total of 11 birds were positive for Salmonella Typhimurium (7%) and 9 individuals (5.8%) for diarrheagenic E. coli (enteropathogenic E. coli/Shiga-toxin producing E. coli [EPEC/STEC]) strains. S. Typhimurium strains presented highly similar AFLP profiles (85-100%), whereas EPEC/STEC strains showed more polymorphism. The results show free-ranging birds as carriers for both microorganisms in a zoo environment in Brazil for the first time and suggest these species as possible sources of infection to other animals as well as exposing personnel and visitors to potential zoonotic microorganisms. The presence of carriers highlights the importance of a surveillance system and the need for preventive measures to avoid attracting growing number of synanthropic avian species.