Journal of Hygiene

Research Article

The herring gull Larus argentatus as a likely transmitting agent of Salmonella montevideo to sheep and cattle

J. C. Coulsona1, J. Butterfielda1 and C. Thomasa1

a1 Department of Zoology, University of Durham, South Road, Durham City DH1 3LE


This paper presents evidence for the involvement of herring gulls (Larus argentatus) as vectors in the recent outbreaks of Salmonella montevideo in sheep and cattle in Scotland and suggests that the transfer can take place over considerable distances. The breeding area in Scotland of herring gulls which overwinter in N.E. England is remarkably similar to the geographical distribution of the outbreaks. This pattern, together with the feeding behaviour of herring gulls on farmland, the presence of S. montevideo in herring gulls just before their departure from the wintering area and the timing of the return just before the peak of outbreaks are all circumstantial evidence implicating this gull in the outbreaks. The rapid return of these gulls to their breeding areas means that S. montevideo can be transported long distances in one day and raises the possibility that the original source of S. montevideo could have been in N. E. England rather than in Scotland.

(Received July 20 1983)

(Accepted August 15 1983)