Antibiotic-Resistant Genes and Pathogens Shed by Wild Deer Correlate with Land Application of Residuals

Shane W. Rogers, Carrie E. Shaffer, Tom A. Langen, Michael Jahne, Rick Welsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to investigate genetic biomarkers of zoonotic enteric pathogens and antibiotic-resistant genes (ARGs) in the feces of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) as related to proximity of deer to land that receives livestock manure or human waste biosolid fertilizers. Deer feces were collected in the St. Lawrence River Valley and Adirondack State Park of New York. Campylobacter spp. 16S rDNA was detected in 12 of 232 fecal samples (8 of 33 sites). Salmonellae were cultivated from 2 of 182 fecal samples (2 of 29 sites). Genetic virulence markers for Shiga-like toxin I (stx1) and enterohemolysin (hylA) were each detected in one isolate of Escherichia coli; E. coli O157 was not detected in any of 295 fecal samples. ARGs detected in deer feces included ermB (erythromycin-resistant gene; 9 of 295 fecal samples, 5 of 38 sites), vanA (vancomycin-resistant gene; 93 of 284 samples, 33 of 38 sites), tetQ (tetracycline-resistant gene; 93 of 295 samples, 25 of 38 sites), and sul(I) (sulfonamide-resistant gene; 113 of 292 samples, 28 of 38 sites). Genetic markers of pathogens and ARGs in deer feces were spatially associated with collection near concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs; Campylobacter spp., tetQ, and ermB) and land-applied biosolids (tetQ). These results indicate that contact with human waste biosolids or animal manure may be an important method of pathogen and ARG transmission and that deer in proximity to land-applied manure and human waste biosolids pose increased risk to nearby produce and water quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-425
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Antibiotic resistance genes
  • Biosolids
  • Concentrated animal feeding operations
  • Gastrointestinal pathogens
  • Sentinels
  • White-tailed deer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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