|Direct or indirect contact between domestic animal and wildlife populations carries risks for transmission of infectious agents, and wildlife are often implicated as sources of contamination that can cause outbreaks of illness in humans. Salmonella enterica and Escherichia coli are both ubiquitous, well-characterized, bacterial pathogens with the potential to cause mild to serious disease and death in humans, domestic cattle and wildlife. Cryptosporidium sp. is a apicomplexan intestinal parasite that primarily causes disease in young animals and can have a significant impact on commercial livestock. In northern California, the Roosevelt elk (Cervus canadensis roosevelti) population utilizes a variety of habitats including pastures of commercial cattle operations in both Humboldt and Del Norte counties: the shared space, forage and possible interactions between these species is of concern to ranchers. We are testing elk and cattle feces for prevalence and strains of E. coli, S. enterica, and Cryptosporidium sp. including elk groups both associated and not associated with cattle. The prevalence and strain types of these pathogens will provide insight into the nature and degree of interactions. This project, utilizing elk GPS collar data to augment range overlap analysis, is a first step in examining pathogen communities among these populations.
This is a work in progress.|