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Pathogen transmission risk by gulls moving across human landscapes

Wildlife that exploit human-made habitats hosts and spreads bacterial pathogens. This shapes the epidemiology of infectious diseases and facilitates pathogen spill-over between wildlife and humans. This is a global problem, yet little is known about the dissemination potential of pathogen-infected animals. How this knowledge gap could be filled at regional scales is shown by combining molecular pathogen diagnosis with GPS tracking of pathogen-infected gulls. Specifically, pathogen risk maps of Salmonella, Campylobacter and Chlamydia were generated, based on the spatial movements of pathogen-infected yellow-legged gulls (Larus michahellis) equipped with GPS recorders. Also, crossing this spatial information with habitat information, critical habitats were identified for the potential transmission of these bacteria in southern Europe. The use of human-made habitats by infected-gulls could potentially increase the potential risk of direct and indirect bidirectional transmission of pathogens between humans and wildlife. These findings show that pathogen-infected wildlife equipped with GPS recorders can provide accurate information on the spatial spread risk for zoonotic bacteria. Integration of GPS-tracking with classical epidemiological approaches may help to improve zoonosis surveillance and control programs informacion[at] Navarro et al (2019) Pathogen transmission risk by opportunistic gulls moving across human landscapes. Scientific Reports 9:10659 DOI 10.1038/s41598-019-46326-1
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