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Monitoring Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Inoculated and Naturally Colonized Feedlot Cattle and Their Environment

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On-farm methods of monitoring Escherichia coli O157:H7 were assessed in 30 experimentally inoculated steers housed in four pens over a 12-week period and in 202,878 naturally colonized feedlot cattle housed in 1,160 pens on four commercial Alberta feedlots over a 1-year period. In the challenge study, yearling steers were experimentally inoculated with 1010 CFU of a four-strain mixture of nalidixic acid–resistant E. coli O157:H7. After inoculation, shedding of E. coli O157:H7 was monitored weekly by collecting rectal fecal samples (FEC), oral swabs (ORL), pooled fecal pats (PAT), manila ropes (ROP) orally accessed for 4 h, feed samples, water, and water bowl interface. Collection of FEC from all animals per pen provided superior isolation (P < 0.01) of E. coli O157:H7 compared with other methods, although labor and animal restraint requirements for fecal sample collection were high. When one sample was collected per pen of animals, E. coli O157:H7 was more likely to be detected from the ROP than from the FEC, PAT, or ORL (P < 0.001). In the commercial feedlot study, samples were limited to ROP and PAT, and E. coli O157:H7 was isolated in 18.8% of PAT and 6.8% of ROP samples. However, for animals that had been resident in the feedlot pen for at least 1 month, isolation of E. coli O157:H7 from ROP was not different from that from PAT (P = 0.35). Pens of animals on feed for < 30 days were six times more likely to shed E. coli O157:H7 than were animals on feed for > 30 days. However, change in diet did not affect shedding of the organism (P < 0.23) provided that animals had acclimated to the feedlot for 1 month or longer. Findings from this study indicate the importance of introduction of mitigation strategies early in the feeding period to reduce transference and the degree to which E. coli O157:H7 is shed into the environment.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Agriculture Centre, 5401 1st Avenue S., Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1J 4V6 2: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Research Centre, Box 3000, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1J 4B1 3: Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, 7000 113th Street, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6H 5T6 4: Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Provincial Building, 5030 50th Street Olds, Alberta, Canada T4H 1S1 5: Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Provincial Building, Box 670, Cardston, Alberta, Canada T0K 0K0

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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    First published in 1937, the Journal of Food Protection®, is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection® is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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