Parasites and pathogens in wild populations of water voles (Arvicola amphibius) in the UK

Merryl Gelling*, David W. Macdonald, Sandra Telfer, Trevor Jones, Kevin Bown, Richard Birtles, Fiona Mathews

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The water vole (Arvicola amphibius) is Britain's most endangered mammal, having gained protection under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in 2008. We present an overview of a range of naturally occurring pathogens and parasites in this rare species, which might negatively impact population persistence for small or declining populations. Wild water voles were live-captured in 2004 and 2006 from sites throughout the UK and were screened for a range of pathogens. These included: Puumala virus, Campylobacter spp., Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica, Leptospira spp., Bartonella spp., Toxoplasma gondii, Giardia spp., Cryptosporidium spp., Babesia microti and Trypanosoma spp. E. coli was the most prevalent with 46/74 (62. 2%; 95% CI, 51-73) individuals infected. One vole was co-infected with seven different pathogens whilst 20% of individuals were pathogen-free.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-619
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
Issue number3
Early online date13 Oct 2011
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

Bibliographical note

Thanks to Amy Isherwood for help with fieldwork; Tom Moorhouse, Rob Strachan, Dan Forman and Ruth Dalton for help with site location and all landowners for allowing us access to extant water vole populations. Thanks also to three anonymous reviewers for helpful and inciteful comments on previous versions of this manuscript. MG was funded by the Environment Agency and by a Royal Society Summer Studentship. The British Wildlife Health Association and The Royal Society provided funding towards clinical testing.


  • Co-infection
  • Pathogen
  • Water vole
  • Wildlife disease


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