This is the first extensive study of the prevalence of naturally acquired Salmonella infection in wild-caught kangaroos in Australia. Given the close association between kangaroos, livestock, and humans and the growing popularity of kangaroo meat, it is important to identify epidemiologic factors associated with infection in these marsupials in order to minimize the risk of Salmonella transmission. The overall prevalence of fecal Salmonella in 645 western grey kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus) sampled across 10 locations in Western Australia was 3.6% (95% CI: 2.3–5.3). Seven Salmonella serovars were identified including Salmonella enterica serovar Muenchen, Kiambu, Rubislaw, Lindern, Champaign, Saintpaul and II 42:g,t:-. Prevalence was significantly associated with rainfall (P<0.05) and was highest in the April–June quarter (P<0.05). There was no association between age or sex and the prevalence of Salmonella in fecal samples. Our results suggest that, while kangaroos are infected with Salmonella in their natural habitat, infection is less common than in hand-reared joeys, pet kangaroos, and macropods raised in captivity. Care should be taken to maintain hygiene during the evisceration, processing, and handling of kangaroos and to adequately cook kangaroo meat prior to consumption to reduce the risk of salmonellosis.
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Vol. 47 • No. 4