Small rodents and other mammals associated with mountain meadows as reservoirs of Giardia spp. and Campylobacter spp.

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Biological Sciences

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Sixty-five percent (469 of 722) of the fecal samples collected from small rodents in the central Washington Cascade mountains were positive for Giardia spp. Trapping studies showed that microtines of the genus Microtus were heavily infected with the parasite. Morphologically the cysts and trophozoites were of the Giardia duodenalis type. Small-rodent populations appear to maintain their infection throughout the year. Our data suggest that there is no difference in the percentage of positive animals in areas receiving a lot of human use as opposed to animals in those areas receiving very little or no human use. Giardia spp. were also found in elk and beaver fecal samples. Campylobacter spp. were recovered infrequently from the small rodents inhabiting alpine meadows. Of 551 specimens cultured, less than 1% were positive for the bacterium, and the isolates were identified as Campylobacter coli. Water voles were susceptible to a human isolate of Campylobacter jejuni and shed the bacterium for several weeks. C. jejuni was also isolated from a bear fecal sample collected from a protected watershed. Our studies indicate that microtines and possibly other small rodents inhabiting mountain meadows have a potential to act as a reservoir for both Giardia spp. and Campylobacter spp. Because these animals may carry human pathogens, they should be included in animal surveys designed to assess the health risks associated with mountain watersheds.


This article was originally published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Applied and Environmental Microbiology


Copyright © 1987, American Society for Microbiology