Occurrence of Salmonella enterica in grey-headed flying foxes from New South Wales

F. McDougall*, M. Power

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Salmonella enterica and Campylobacter jejuni are significant foodborne zoonotic pathogens causing gastroenteritis in humans. Domestic animals are commonly implicated as reservoirs of S. enterica and C. jejuni, but both are also detected in wild animals. Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium is the most common cause of human salmonellosis in Australia; however, Salmonella enterica serovar Wangata is associated with sporadic human outbreaks in New South Wales and wild animals may be a potential reservoir. To determine if wild grey-headed flying foxes (GHFF; Pteropus poliocephalus) are reservoirs of Salmonella and Campylobacter, faecal samples were collected from three GHFF colonies in New South Wales and cultured for the presence of Salmonella and Campylobacter. One Salmonella isolate was cultured from 254 GHFF faecal samples (0.39%). Whole genome sequencing was used to genetically characterise the Salmonella isolate and perform phylogenetic analysis. The GHFF isolate was determined to be Salmonella Typhimurium ST19. The GHFF isolate carried a virulence plasmid and other virulence factors, but did not exhibit antimicrobial resistance. Phylogenetic analysis determined that the GHFF isolate was most closely related to a cluster of six isolates: four from human salmonellosis cases in Queensland and two from Australian livestock. Neither Campylobacter nor Salmonella Wangata were cultured from the 254 GHFF faecal samples. This study concluded that wild GHFF in New South Wales are not major reservoirs for Salmonella, and the zoonotic risks associated with S. enterica carriage by urban GHFF are low for the general public.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Veterinary Journal
Early online date6 Sep 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors declare no conflicts of interest for the work presented here. This project was funded by a Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment to Fiona McDougall (Equity Trustees Charitable Foundation and the Ecological Society of Australia) and a Lake Macquarie Council Environmental Research Grant to Michelle Power and Fiona McDougall.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Australian Veterinary Association.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • fruit bats
  • grey-headed flying fox
  • One Health
  • Salmonella
  • zoonoses


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