Cattle Egrets have a worldwide distribution, feed in proximity to cattle and other domestic animals, and often nest in large colonies in urban woodlots. Over a 3-yr period, nestlings from five Cattle Egret colonies from Central Texas, USA, were surveyed for salmonellosis. Prevalence of infection ranged from 29% to 95%. Seventeen Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serotypes were isolated, of which the 4,5,12:i-monophasic serotype predominated in cultures of both the digestive tract and pooled spleen and liver. Of 11 4,5,12:i-monophasic isolates phage typed, eight were determinate type 193. The 4,5,12:i-monophasic isolates were susceptible to all antibiotics tested and were highly invasive in the day-old chick infection model. Microscopic lesions were found in the livers of Cattle Egrets with systemic infections with the 4,5,12:i-monophasic serotype, suggesting that infections with this serotype may often be fatal. Twenty-nine serotypes were identified in 179 S. enterica subsp. enterica isolates from horses admitted to the Texas A&M University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in 2 yr following the Cattle Egret study. The 4,5,12:i-monophasic serotype was not isolated from horses, but 12 serotypes were isolated from both horses and Cattle Egrets. The temporal distribution of the horse cases suggested that Cattle Egrets and horses may be exposed to similar sources of Salmonella, but provided no evidence of transmission between these two species. Similar conclusions were drawn when Cattle Egret isolates were compared to isolates from feedlot and dairy cattle from Texas and surrounding states. Given that the Cattle Egret 4,5,12:i-monophasic serotype was highly invasive and other isolates of this serotype have been associated with food poisoning, it is likely that Cattle Egret colonies pose a health risk to humans living near them.
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Vol. 46 • No. 2