Prevalence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in white-tailed deer sharing rangeland with cattle

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1999 Sep 15;215(6):792-4.


Objective: To determine the prevalence of fecal shedding of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) with access to cattle pastures.

Design: Survey study.

Sample population: 212 fecal samples from free ranging white-tailed deer.

Procedure: Fresh feces were collected on multiple pastures from 2 farms in north central Kansas between September 1997 and April 1998. Escherichia coli O157:H7 was identified by bacterial culture and DNA-based methods.

Results: Escherichia coli O157:H7 was identified in 2.4% (5/212) of white-tailed deer fecal samples.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: There is considerable interest in the beef industry in on-farm control of E coli O157:H7 to reduce the risk of this pathogen entering the human food chain. Results of our study suggest that the design of programs for E coli O157:H7 control in domestic livestock on pasture will need to account for fecal shedding in free-ranging deer. In addition, the results have implications for hunters, people consuming venison, and deer-farming enterprises.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Deer*
  • Disease Reservoirs
  • Escherichia coli Infections / epidemiology
  • Escherichia coli Infections / transmission
  • Escherichia coli Infections / veterinary*
  • Escherichia coli O157 / genetics
  • Escherichia coli O157 / isolation & purification*
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Kansas / epidemiology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / veterinary
  • Prevalence


  • DNA, Bacterial