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The herring gull Larus argentatus as a carrier of salmonella

  • Jennifer Butterfield (a1), J. C. Coulson (a1), Susan V. Kearsey (a1), Patricia Monaghan (a1), J. H. McCoy (a2) and G. E. Spain (a2)...

Summary

The proportion of salmonella carriers among town-nesting herring gulls increased significantly from 2·1% in 1975–6 to 8·4% in 1979. The range of serotypes carried by herring gulls was similar to that causing infection in man, and it is likely that the gulls ingest these serotypes when feeding at untreated sewage outfalls on the coast. This is supported by the proportion of salmonella carriers being higher among first-year birds (9·7%) than among older birds (2·0%), as it is known that higher proportions of immature herring gulls feed on the coast. Herring gulls carrying salmonellas appeared healthy at the time of capture and at a later date it was assumed that they were not themselves infected. However, their habit of congregating in large numbers on reservoirs and rubbish tips and also at resting sites on farmland often far from feeding and roosting areas, multiplies thejpollution problem and increases the potential health hazard for both man and farm stock. Herring gulls feed at a variety of sites and fly many miles from food source to food source and from feeding areas to the roost. Thus, even within the same day, there is the possibility of the transfer of salmonellas over a much wider area than previously considered.

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References

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The herring gull Larus argentatus as a carrier of salmonella

  • Jennifer Butterfield (a1), J. C. Coulson (a1), Susan V. Kearsey (a1), Patricia Monaghan (a1), J. H. McCoy (a2) and G. E. Spain (a2)...

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