Salmonella in garden birds responsive to antibiotics
University of Liverpool scientists found that
salmonella bacteria found in garden birds are sensitive to antibiotics,
suggesting the infection is unlike the bacteria found in livestock and
The team of scientists tested the strains found in birds in the laboratory
and found that antibiotics were able to kill off the bacteria. It is often
believed that wild birds carried a variety of salmonella strains and passed the
infection on to livestock through their faeces. However, scientists at Liverpool
have found that only two salmonella strains are common in garden birds, neither
of which is prevalent in livestock or humans.
Research showed that these strains were a fairly distinct population of
bacteria and well adapted in garden birds.
Dr Paul Wigley from the National Centre for Zoonosis at the University of
Liverpool: "We have witnessed a number of deaths due to Salmonella infection in
garden birds and so it was important that we investigated how the disease was
being spread," he said. "We thought that wild birds were incubators for
salmonella, but have now found that garden birds carry two strains of a group of
salmonella microorganisms, called Salmonella Typhimurium, itself only one of
over 2,500 types of salmonella. We screened salmonella genes we knew to be
involved in causing disease and found that they lacked a gene normally found in
the human form of the infection," he added.
"The work suggests that the infection will keep circulating in the same
species, increasing the risk of further disease outbreaks. We now know that
these Salmonella strains are not resistant to antibiotics but it would be
inadvisable to use antibiotics in garden birds as this would inevitably lead to
the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria within these populations.
We also now need to explore other possible sources to understand the
infection in livestock and humans."
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