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Inter- and intra-specific exposure to parasites and pathogens via the faecal-oral route : a consequence of behaviour in a patchy environment
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by L Smith, G Marion, David SwainDavid Swain, P White, M Hutchings
Livestock herbivores are at risk of inter- and intra-specific exposure to parasites/pathogens via the faecal-oral route during grazing. Each contact between livestock and faeces in the environment is a potential parasite/pathogen transmission event. Cattle grazing contact with faeces varies in relation to the species depositing the faeces and the distribution of the faeces. We used a foraging model to simulate the grazing behaviour of beef cattle in two grazing systems to compare the relative inter-specific and intra-specific exposure risks to parasites/pathogens. Overall, there is a greater level of intra- vs. inter-specific risk via the faecal-oral route. However, under certain conditions, particularly for microparasite infections, e.g. paratuberculosis in rabbits and bovine tuberculosis in badgers, wildlife may pose a significant exposure risk to parasites/pathogens. These risks can be enhanced when cattle are first turned out onto pasture and in situations where intra-specific variations in wildlife behaviour result in more dispersed defecation patterns.