Abstract

Title:  Risk Factors for Cranial Abscess Disease in White-Tailed Deer of Georgia
Author(s): Bradley S. Cohen, E -Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Emily H. Belser - Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia; Shamus P. Keeler -Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia ; Charlie H. Killmaster - Wildlife Resources Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; John W. Bowers - Wildlife Resources Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Michael J. Yabsley - Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia; John R. Fischer - Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia: Karl V. Miller - Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia
Year: 2014
Abstract: Cranial abscess disease is a reported cause of natural mortality, particularly for mature, male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Most cases of cranial abscesses are associated with infection by the opportunistic bacterium Trueperella pyogenes (formerly Arcanobacterium pyogenes) but little else is known about the disease. We examined 4473 male white-tailed deer across 58 properties throughout Georgia for signs of cranial abscesses to model the distribution of the disease across the state and investigate risk factors for the disease. A general linearized mixed model treating property as a random effect suggested that age was the most important risk factor. Furthermore, habitat variables (percent evergreen, percent agriculture, etc.) and soil features were not strongly associated with increasing risk of the disease. However, the model suggested that a large amount of variance occurred at the property level. To investigate the source of variation across properties, we examined the infectious potential of T. pyogenes from the foreheads of male white-tailed deer from these properties. We used Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) to determine the presence of 7 different virulent factors. Five of the seven virulence factors, all of which promote bacterial adhesion to epithelium, were more commonly detected on properties where abscesses were found (p<.001). This suggests the patchy distribution of cranial abscess disease across Georgia is caused by differences in the genetics of the commensal bacteria and causative agent, T. pyogenes. White-tailed deer managers must recognize the potential to transport pathogenic bacteria and disease when transporting white-tailed deer.

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