Deer farming for the purposes of breeding and hunting is a relatively new and unstudied practice in North America. While herd pathogen prevalence rates have been studied in wild populations of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), little data concerning the presence of pathogens in farmed deer is available. Requests for participation in this study and sample collection kits were sent to 215 deer farmers in Ohio between November and December 2006. Samples were received from 20 farms between December and February 2007. Enrichment and isolation protocols were followed for the isolation and identification of Escherichia coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enterica, and Yersinia enterocolitica. Escherichia coli O157, L. monocytogenes, and Y. enterocolitica were found in 5% farm prevalence rates (C.I. 0-15%, n=20). Salmonella enterica was not isolated from any of the samples (0%). None of the variables reported, including farm size, herd size, and farm density, were found to be significant predictors of pathogen presence on a farm at a 95% confidence level. Additionally, no other farm condition variables were found to be significantly different between farms submitting samples positive for at least one pathogen and those submitting negative. The presence of pathogens in populations of farmed deer suggests that farmers, veterinarians, and all other persons being exposed to deer and their fecal material should take precaution to avoid contracting bacterial infections. Additionally, those processing and consuming venison from these deer should be made aware of the risk of bacterial contamination and measures that can be taken to decrease the chance of transmission to humans.



Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2007 Elizabeth A. French