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Mary Grigar

Salmonella, Birds, and the Brazos Valley

Mary Grigar, a Texas A&M University (TAMU) doctoral candidate in the department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences (VIBS), attended the 2016 James Steele Conference on Diseases in Nature Transmissible to Man (DIN) in San Antonio, Texas on May 27-29, 2016. Her study reported on the prevalence of Salmonella in Great-tailed Grackles and other urban bird species. Mary worked with a team of seven faculty from TAMU CVM including her mentor, Dr. Kevin Cummings, Professor in the department of VIBS, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

The avian species in this study are commonly found throughout the Brazos Valley. While some research has been done on the epidemiology of Salmonella in these species in agricultural settings, such as dairies and feedlots, little has been done in a strictly urban setting.

“While Mary found that the prevalence of Salmone lla in these birds is low,” said Dr. Cummings, “the proximity of these species to human establishments, such as grocery stores and other retail locations, has the potential to impact public health. Birds are able to travel large distances, facilitating their ability to disseminate infectious diseases. What’s also intriguing is that these birds typically show no signs of disease when they are carrying Salmonella. Mary’s study is a first step toward exploring the epidemiology of Salmonella in Great-tailed Grackles and other urban bird species.”

DIN focuses on zoonotic diseases, or diseases that can affect both humans and animals. The conference is centered around the One Health concept of interwoven public health in all aspects of society. Presentations were given by a wide range of public health professionals including veterinarians, doctors, researchers, and nurses. “DIN allowed me to present my research in a One Health setting and receive feedback from a wide range of sources,” said Mary, “I was also able to interact and network with individuals from a variety of public health areas. As a public health student, attending conferences such as DIN provides me with critical context and direction which in turn drives my research.”

Click here to view Mary's abstract.