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An assessment of zoonotic and production limiting pathogens in Rusa Deer (Cervus timorensis rusa) from Mauritius

Jori F., Godfroid J., Michel A., Potts A.D., Jaumally M.R., Sauzier J., Roger M.. 2014. Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, 61 (1) : p. 31-42.

DOI: 10.1111/tbed.12206

A population of approximately 70 000 rusa deer (Cervus timorensis russa) represents the most important mammal species reared for food on the island of Mauritius, being the main source of red meat for the local population. However, very limited information is available on the circulation of pathogens affecting the productivity and health of this species. To produce baseline data on the circulation of infectious pathogens in rusa deer under production, a serological survey and/or direct pathogen detection for six selected infectious diseases was undertaken in 2007 in a sample of 53% of the herds reared in semi-free-ranging conditions in hunting estates. Seropositive results were recorded for Johne's disease with an indirect ELISA test (1.7%, n = 351), heartwater with an immunofluorescence antibody test (IFAT) (95.5%, n = 178) and leptospirosis with a Microscopic Agglutination Test (MAT) (25.9%, n = 363). Significant associations were found between seroprevalence to some of the leptospiral serogroups detected (Tarassovi, Pomona, Sejroe and Mini) and age of the animals, animal density or location of the estates (being more prevalent in hotter and more humid areas). In addition, Mycobacterium bovis and M. avium subspecies paratuberculosis were confirmed in two deer carcasses by culture and PCR, respectively. No antibodies against Brucella spp. nor Rift Valley Fever virus were detected with the use of respective indirect ELISA's. The results obtained suggest that the population of rusa deer from Mauritius is exposed to a wide range of pathogens which may affect their productivity. In addition, the results highlight the potential public health risks incurred by deer industry workers and consumers. This survey fills an important gap in knowledge regarding the health of tropical deer meat in Mauritius and justifies the need to implement more regular surveys of selected pathogens in the deer population.

Mots-clés : cervus; agent pathogène; enquête pathologique; sérologie; immunodiagnostic; animal sauvage; animal domestique; leptospirose; tuberculose; paratuberculose; ehrlichia; brucella; mycobacterium bovis; mycobacterium avium; leptospira; viande; contamination; inspection des viandes; maladie infectieuse; ehrlichia ruminantium; maurice; cervus timorensis

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