We cultured 126 Pasteurella multocida isolates, 92 from water and 34 from sediment samples collected from wetlands in the Pacific and Central flyways of the United States between 1996 and 1999. Most (121) of the isolates were P. multocida serotype 1, but serotypes 3, 3/4, 10, and 11 were also found. Many (82) of the isolates were further characterized by DNA finger-printing procedures and tested in Pekin ducks for virulence. Almost all the serotype 1 isolates we tested caused mortality in Pekin ducks. Serotype 1 isolates varied in virulence, but the most consistent pattern was higher mortality in male ducks than in females. We found no evidence that isolates found in sediment vs. water, between Pacific and Central flyways, or during El Niño years had consistently different virulence. We also found a number of non-serotype 1 isolates that were avirulent in Pekin ducks. Isolates had DNA fingerprint profiles similar to those found in birds that died during avian cholera outbreaks.
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Vol. 39 • No. 4