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Deer Faecal Sampling for Postgrad Project

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A Bristol University Science Student is asking South West and West BDS branch members for help with a project, Sam says: 

There is very little data on the prevalence of diseases in UK deer. Wild deer are a known potential reservoir of transmissible diseases and antimicrobial resistance genes. More recently, farmed deer have also been implicated in outbreaks of foodborne disease. Therefore, deer do pose a risk for disease transmission of livestock and zoonotic diseases. Furthermore, wild deer may be a reservoir for diseases that pose a threat to the health of farmed deer, but it is difficult to assess the risk without knowing if these diseases are common in the wild.

This study aims to address the lack of data on enteric disease agents in the UK wild, farmed, park and zoo deer through a descriptive cross-sectional study. Disease prevalence and the presence of antimicrobial resistance genes will be identified. Management factors will also be assessed to identify any possible associations between these factors and the prevalence of disease agents.

How you can help

For hunted wild deer, the project has a simple protocol to get individual faecal samples from the rectum during gralloching. They will send out sample collection packs with pre-paid return packages.

For captive deer, the project will be collecting ground samples up to a maximum of 60 per herd (or a maximum equal to the herd size if <60). They can supply collection pots and pay for return shipping to Bristol Veterinary School, otherwise, a researcher can visit for the day to collect samples.

How may this benefit you

Herd results can be sent to the herd owner if they are wanted. The project hope to publish the results in a journal and may provide a pre-publication report to relevant parties. They hope that this research will lay the groundwork for future investigations into the role that deer may have in disease transmission to livestock and humans.

Who can help 

The project is focusing on sampling on the South-West region of England and are looking to get faecal samples from all deer species up until mid-March 2020.

If you own or manage a captive deer herd or hunt wild deer in the South-West and are interested in participating in the project, please get in touch at

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