Faecal samples were collected, as part of the National Health Surveillance Program for Cervids (HOP) in Norway, from wild red deer, roe deer, moose and reindeer during ordinary hunting seasons from 2001 to 2003. Samples from a total of 618 animals were examined for verocytotoxic E. coli (VTEC); 611 animals for Salmonella and 324 animals for Campylobacter. A total of 50 samples were cultivated from each cervid species in order to isolate the indicator bacterial species E. coli and Enterococcus faecalis/E. faecium for antibiotic resistance pattern studies. Salmonella and the potentially human pathogenic verocytotoxic E. coli were not isolated, while Campylobacter jejuni jejuni was found in one roe deer sample only. Antibiotic resistance was found in 13 (7.3%) of the 179 E. coli isolates tested, eight of these being resistant against one type of antibiotic only. The proportion of resistant E. coli isolates was higher in wild reindeer (24%) than in the other cervids (2.2%). E. faecalis or E. faecium were isolated from 19 of the samples, none of these being reindeer. All the strains isolated were resistant against one (84%) or more (16%) antibiotics. A total of 14 E. faecalis-strains were resistant to virginiamycin only. The results indicate that the cervid species studied do not constitute an important infectious reservoir for either the human pathogens or the antibiotic resistant microorganisms included in the study.
Keywords: Campylobacter, Salmonella, verocytotoxic Escherichia coli, VTEC, antibiotic resistance, cervids, moose, red deer, roe deer, reindeer, faeces