We conducted a study of the population dynamics, movement, and diseases of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee (USA) from 1980 to 1984. During the study 590 blood samples were collected from 518 deer, with some deer recaptured one or two times. The estimated percent of the herd sampled each year ranged from 8% to 28%. We also collected serum samples from 56 cattle pastured in Cades Cove.
Deer and cattle sera were tested using the microagglutination test for the presence of antibody to the following serovars of Leptospira: pomona, hardjo, grippotyphosa, icterohemorrhagiae, and canicola. One hundred and six deer (21%) were seropositive for only one of the serovars. We found that 57 (11%) of the deer had antibodies to serovar hardjo, 33 (6%) were positive for antibodies to serovar pomona, 15 (3%) were positive for antibodies to serovar icterohemorrhagiae, and one deer had antibodies to serovar canicola.
Age class and sex of deer were associated with antibody presence. Adult (≥1.5 yr) male deer were more likely to have antibodies than the other age class and sex groups (P = 0.001).
In recaptured deer, similar titers were found in samples from one deer taken 807 days apart. Titer declined below the screening dilution level (1:250) after 37 days in one deer.