Evaluating Campylobacter spp at the human-wildlife interface

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Virginia Tech


Campylobacter spp. infections are an increasing global concern responsible for a significant burden of disease every year. Wildlife and domestic animals are considered important reservoirs, but little is known about host-factors driving pathogen infection dynamics in wild mammal populations. In countries like Botswana, there is significant spatial overlap between humans and wildlife with a large proportion of the population vulnerable to Campylobacter infection, making Botswana an ideal location to study these interactions. This thesis reviews mammalian wildlife species that have been identified as carriers of Campylobacter spp., identifies life-history traits (urban association, trophic level, and sociality) that may be driving Campylobacter infection, and utilizes banded mongoose (Mungos mungo) (n=201) as a study species to illuminate potential Campylobacter spp. transmission at the human-wildlife interface in northern Botswana. Results of the latter study suggest that human-landscapes are critical to C. jejuni infection in banded mongooses, as mongooses utilizing man-made structures as dens had significantly higher levels of C. jejuni than mongooses using natural dens (p=0.019). A similar association was found across all wild mammals with significantly greater number of urban dwelling species positive for C. jejuni than urban avoiders (p = 0.04). Omnivorous and social mammals were significantly associated with C. coli presence (p=0.04 and p<0.00 respectively), but not with C. jejuni indicating there may be important differences in transmission dynamics between Campylobacter species. These results suggest that landscape features and life-history traits can have important influences on Campylobacter species exposure and transmission dynamics in wildlife.



Campylobacter spp, Campylobacter jejuni, One Health, urban wildlife, infectious disease