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A review of viral and parasitic infections in wild deer in Australia with relevance to livestock and human health

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-11-16, 00:31 authored by Jose Luis Alfredo Huaman Torres, Karla HelbigKarla Helbig, Ana-Teresa CarvalhoAna-Teresa Carvalho, M Doyle, J Hampton, DM Forsyth, AR Pople, C Pacioni
Wild animals harbour a diverse range of pathogens. In Europe and North America, cervids (Family Cervidae) can act as reservoirs for viral, prion, bacterial, and parasitic infections. Wild deer often inhabit agricultural land, therefore representing a biosecurity risk due to their potential ability to transmit diseases to livestock. Multiple studies have investigated the infection status of wild deer in Australia, mostly during the 1970s and 1980s, and deer populations have increased greatly in abundance and distribution since then. Those studies provide an important baseline for the pathogens carried by wild deer in Australia but are limited by small sample size, the small number of deer species studied, and the disease detection methods used. Recent investigations using ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay), PCR-based assays, and next-generation sequencing have substantially increased our understanding of viral and parasitic infections in Australian deer. These studies indicate that deer may act as reservoirs for pathogens such as Pestivirus, Neospora caninum and Entamoeba bovis. The use of next-generation sequencing has led to the discovery of novel viruses such as Picobirnavirus and a novel species of the genus Bopivirus, both of which pose transmission risks for domestic animals. Recent research confirms that wild deer could be a future source of viral and parasitic infections for domestic livestock and other wildlife species.


This study was funded by the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (PO1-L-002). The funding body had no role in the preparation orreview of the manuscript.


Publication Date



Wildlife Research






10p. (p. 593-602)


CSIRO Publishing



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© 2023 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND)