Feral pigeons (Columba livia) as potential reservoirs of Salmonella sp. and Escherichia coli.
This study aimed to review the scientific literature for information about free-living pigeons (Columba livia) as potential reservoirs of Salmonella sp. and Escherichia coli. Rock doves are currently adapted to the urban environment and distributed all over the world. These birds carry microorganisms that are pathogenic for man and other animals, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Among these microorganisms, Salmonella is a pathogenic genus that cause severe economic losses and it is zoonotic, causing foodborne infections in humans. In addition, Escherichia coli is an worrisome species involved in the poultry industry. However, this micro-organism is also a risk to the public health, considering pathotypes that are known to cause diseases in man have been isolated from feral pigeons. The infections caused by these bacteria depend on virulence factors that provide the necessary tools to develop the disease. These factors are encoded by genes that may be found in pathogenicity islands inside the bacterial genome. In addition, pigeons may harbor antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, which may pass this characteristic to other strains, and present a risk to the public health as well. In conclusion, pigeons are reservoirs of strains of Salmonella sp. and Escherichia coli that may present high levels of resistance to antibiotics.