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Prevalence of Escherichia coli, Salmonella sp. and Campylobacter sp. in the intestinal flora of farm-reared, restocked and wild red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa): is restocking using farm-reared birds a risk?

Abstract

For hunting purposes, several millions of red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa) are released each year in Spain, and these releases have the potential to introduce new parasites and disease into wild populations. We studied the prevalence of Escherichia coli, Campylobacter sp. and Salmonella sp. in the intestinal flora of red-legged partridges from three different husbandry groups: farm-reared, restocked and natural populations. Prevalence of E. coli was significantly higher in farm-reared (45%, p = 0.01) and restocked partridges (60%, p < 0.001) than in wild ones (6%, p > 0.05). The prevalence of Campylobacter sp. (23%, 100 out of 444) did not differ significantly between these three husbandry groups, and Salmonella sp. was only detected in a group of partridge chicks on one of the farms studied (0.9%, 5 out of 544). These results suggest that farm-reared and restocked partridges can act as carriers of these three enteropathogens and highlight a potential risk of transmission to natural populations via the releases of farm-reared partridges. However, future investigations are needed regarding the relation of the isolated bacteria with zoonotic strains and dissemination of antibiotic resistant microorganisms, especially E. coli, and to better evaluate the effect that these three enteropathogens have on partridge health and on the success of restocking with farm-reared birds.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank E. Perez, L. Perez-Rodriguez, F. Mougeot, J.T García, M. Calero Riestra and C. Alonso for their assistance in the field and D. Vidal and S. Sánchez-Prieto for the technical assistance. This study was funded by Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha (JCCM, Spain; project reference: PAC08-0296-7771) and is also a contribution to project Ag2008-02504GAN funded by the Spanish Ministry for Science and Innovation. Capture of partridges from natural populations was carried out under projects PII1I09-0271-5037, PAI06-0112 and PAII1C09-0227-0104. Sandra Diaz-Sanchez holds a PhD research grant funded by Junta de Comunidades de Castilla–La Mancha (JCCM) (AG07).

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Díaz-Sánchez, S., Moriones, A.M., Casas, F. et al. Prevalence of Escherichia coli, Salmonella sp. and Campylobacter sp. in the intestinal flora of farm-reared, restocked and wild red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa): is restocking using farm-reared birds a risk?. Eur J Wildl Res 58, 99–105 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-011-0547-5

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Keywords

  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • Red-legged partridge
  • Campylobacter sp.
  • Escherichia coli
  • Salmonella sp.
  • Restocking
  • Prevalence