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Faecal indicators and pathogens in selected New Zealand waterfowl

Abstract

Freshly excreted droppings from Canada geese (n=80), black swans (n=80), ducks (n=80) and gulls (n=80) were collected from sites around New Zealand. The droppings were enumerated for Escherichia coli, enterococci and Salmonella spp., and for the presence/absence of Cryptosporidium spp. Overall prevalence of E. coli and enterococci in samples was 95% and 94%, respectively. Cryptosporidium spp. was detected in 2% of the samples, whereas no Salmonella spp. were detected in the survey. Preliminary estimates of daily microbial outputs suggest that ducks will produce the highest loadings of E. coli and enterococci per bird, whereas Canada geese will produce the highest loadings of Campylobacter spp. per bird. This study provides the first set of indicator and pathogen counts for one of the largest sources of diffuse faecal contamination of natural waters in New Zealand.

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