Environmental Factors Influencing White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) Exposure to Livestock Pathogens in Wisconsin

PLoS One. 2015 Jun 1;10(6):e0128827. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0128827. eCollection 2015.


White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are commonly exposed to disease agents that affect livestock but environmental factors that predispose deer to exposure are unknown for many pathogens. We trapped deer during winter months on two study areas (Northern Forest and Eastern Farmland) in Wisconsin from 2010 to 2013. Deer were tested for exposure to six serovars of Leptospira interrogans (grippotyphosa, icterohaemorrhagiae, canicola, bratislava, pomona, and hardjo), bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV-1 and BVDV-2), infectious bovine rhinotracheitis virus (IBR), and parainfluenza 3 virus (PI3). We used logistic regression to model potential intrinsic (e.g., age, sex) and extrinsic (e.g., land type, study site, year, exposure to multiple pathogens) variables we considered biologically meaningful to exposure of deer to livestock pathogens. Deer sampled in 2010-2011 did not demonstrate exposure to BVDV, so we did not test for BVDV in subsequent years. Deer had evidence of exposure to PI3 (24.7%), IBR (7.9%), Leptospira interrogans serovar pomona (11.7%), L. i. bratislava (1.0%), L. i. grippotyphosa (2.5%) and L. i. hardjo (0.3%). Deer did not demonstrate exposure to L. interrogans serovars canicola and icterohaemorrhagiae. For PI3, we found that capture site and year influenced exposure. Fawns (n = 119) were not exposed to L. i. pomona, but land type was an important predictor of exposure to L. i. pomona for older deer. Our results serve as baseline exposure levels of Wisconsin white-tailed deer to livestock pathogens, and helped to identify important factors that explain deer exposure to livestock pathogens.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Deer / microbiology*
  • Deer / virology*
  • Diarrhea Viruses, Bovine Viral / pathogenicity
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Herpesvirus 1, Bovine / pathogenicity
  • Leptospira / pathogenicity
  • Livestock / microbiology*
  • Livestock / virology*
  • Male
  • Parainfluenza Virus 3, Bovine / pathogenicity
  • Wisconsin

Grants and funding

The work was supported by Consortium for Extension and Research in Agriculture and Natural Resources at University of Wisconsin-Madison: http://research.cals.wisc.edu/funding-opportunities/cals/uw-consortium-for-extension-and-research-in-agriculture-and-natural-resources-ceranr/. The funder had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.