High-throughput sequencing technologies now allow for rapid cost-effective surveys of multiple pathogens in many host species including rodents, but it is currently unclear if the organ chosen for screening influences the number and identity of bacteria detected. We used 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing to identify bacterial pathogens in the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and spleen of 13 water voles (Arvicola terrestris) collected in Franche-Comté, France. We asked if bacterial pathogen assemblages within organs are similar and if all five organs are necessary to detect all of the bacteria present in an individual animal. We identified 24 bacteria representing 17 genera; average bacterial richness for each organ ranged from 1·5 ± 0·4 (mean ± standard error) to 2·5 ± 0·4 bacteria/organ and did not differ significantly between organs. The average bacterial richness when organ assemblages were pooled within animals was 4·7 ± 0·6 bacteria/animal; Operational Taxonomic Unit accumulation analysis indicates that all five organs are required to obtain this. Organ type influences bacterial assemblage composition in a systematic way (PERMANOVA, 999 permutations, pseudo-F
4,51 = 1·37, P = 0·001). Our results demonstrate that the number of organs sampled influences the ability to detect bacterial pathogens, which can inform sampling decisions in public health and wildlife ecology.