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Pulsed-Field Gel Electrophoresis Supports the Presence of Host-Adapted Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica Serovar Typhimurium Strains in the British Garden Bird Population

Lawson, Becki, Hughes, Laura A., Peters, Tansy, de Pinna, Elizabeth, John, Shinto K., Macgregor, Shaheed K., Cunningham, Andrew A.
Applied and environmental microbiology 2011 v.77 no.22 pp. 8139-8144
epidemiology, Salmonella Typhimurium, bacteriophages, longitudinal studies, meat carcasses, gardens, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, necropsy, salmonellosis, bird diseases, wild birds, host strains, habitats, England, Wales
Salmonellosis is a frequently diagnosed infectious disease of passerine birds in garden habitats within Great Britain with potential implications for human and domestic animal health. Postmortem examinations were performed on 1,477 garden bird carcasses of circa 50 species from England and Wales, 1999 to 2007 inclusive. Salmonellosis was confirmed in 263 adult birds of 10 passerine species in this 11-year longitudinal study. A subset of 124 fully biotyped Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica serovar Typhimurium isolates was examined using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis to investigate the hypothesis that these strains are host adapted and to determine whether this molecular technique offers greater resolution in understanding the epidemiology of Salmonella Typhimurium infection than phage typing alone. For the two most common phage types, definitive type (DT) 40 and DT56v, which together accounted for 97% (120/124) of isolates, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis groupings closely correlated with phage type with remarkably few exceptions. A high degree of genetic similarity (>90%) was observed within and between the two most common pulsed-field gel electrophoresis groups. No clustering or variation was found in the pulsed-field gel electrophoresis groupings by bird species, year, or geographical region beyond that revealed by phage typing. These findings support the hypothesis that there are currently two host-adapted Salmonella phage types, S. Typhimurium DT40 and DT56v, circulating widely in British garden birds and that the reservoir of infection is maintained within wild bird populations. Large-scale multilocus sequence typing studies are required to further investigate the epidemiology of this infection.