Wild Geese and Swans May Transmit Avian Influenza Virus, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Antibiotic Resistance

Elmberg J, Berg C, Lerner H, Waldenström J, Hessel R. Potential disease transmission from wild geese and swans to livestock, poultry and humans: a review of the scientific literature from a One Health perspective. Infection ecology and epidemiology. 2017 Apr 10;7(1):1300450. doi: 10.1080/20008686.2017.1300450.

There are more herbivorous waterfowl (swans and geese) close to humans, livestock and poultry than ever before. This creates widespread conflict with agriculture and other human interests, but also debate about the role of swans and geese as potential vectors of disease of relevance for human and animal health. Using a One Health perspective, we provide the first comprehensive review of the scientific literature about the most relevant viral, bacterial, and unicellular pathogens occurring in wild geese and swans. Research thus far suggests that these birds may play a role in transmission of avian influenza virus, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and antibiotic resistance. On the other hand, at present there is no evidence that geese and swans play a role in transmission of Newcastle disease, duck plague, West Nile virus, Vibrio, Yersinia, Clostridium, Chlamydophila, and Borrelia. Finally, based on present knowledge it is not possible to say if geese and swans play a role in transmission of Escherichia coli, Pasteurella, Helicobacter, Brachyspira, Cryptosporidium, Giardia, and Microsporidia. This is largely due to changes in classification and taxonomy, rapid development of identification methods and lack of knowledge about host specificity. Previous research tends to overrate the role of geese and swans as disease vectors; we do not find any evidence that they are significant transmitters to humans or livestock of any of the pathogens considered in this review. Nevertheless, it is wise to keep poultry and livestock separated from small volume waters used by many wild waterfowl, but there is no need to discourage livestock grazing in nature reserves or pastures where geese and swans are present. Under some circumstances it is warranted to discourage swans and geese from using wastewater ponds, drinking water reservoirs, and public beaches. Intensified screening of swans and geese for AIV, West Nile virus and anatid herpesvirus is warranted.