The purpose of this study was to investigate whether mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) are susceptible to infection with Mycobacterium bovis by either oral or intratracheal inoculation and to assess their potential role in the spread of bovine tuberculosis. Six ducks were orally inoculated with 1.0 × 105 colony-forming units of M. bovis, six ducks were intratracheally inoculated with the same dose, and six ducks served as sham-inoculated controls. The study length was 90 days postinoculation, with samples of two birds from each group necropsied at 30-day intervals. Both fecal and tissue samples were collected for mycobacterial culture. None of the inoculated ducks shed M. bovis in their feces at any culture point (days 1, 30, and 60) during the study. No evidence of illness or weight loss was present during the course of the study, and only one duck had M. bovis isolated from any tissue, although there were no associated microscopic lesions. Mallard ducks were highly resistant to infection with M. bovis following high-dose inoculation and did not shed the organism in their feces. This study was conducted using high-dose inoculation; therefore, it appears that ducks are unlikely to play any significant role in the transmission of M. bovis between infected and uninfected mammalian hosts.
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Vol. 49 • No. 1