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Prevalence of Shiga Toxin–Producing Escherichia coli in Beef Cattle

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Abstract:

A large number of Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains have caused major outbreaks and sporadic cases of human illnesses, including mild diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, hemorrhagic colitis, and the life-threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome. These illnesses have been traced to both O157 and non-O157 STEC. In a large number of STEC-associated outbreaks, the infections were attributed to consumption of ground beef or other beef products contaminated with cattle feces. Thus, beef cattle are considered reservoirs of STEC and can pose significant health risks to humans. The global nature of the human food supply suggests that safety concerns with beef will continue and the challenges facing the beef industry will increase at the production and processing levels. To be prepared to address these concerns and challenges, it is critical to assess the role of beef cattle in human STEC infections. In this review, published reports on STEC in beef cattle were evaluated to achieve the following specific objectives: (i) assess the prevalence of STEC in beef cattle, and (ii) determine the potential health risks of STEC strains from beef cattle. The latter objective is critically important because many beef STEC isolates are highly virulent. Global testing of beef cattle feces revealed wide ranges of prevalence rates for O157 STEC (i.e., 0.2 to 27.8%) and non-O157 STEC (i.e., 2.1 to 70.1%). Of the 261 STEC serotypes found in beef cattle, 44 cause hemolytic uremic syndrome and 37 cause other illnesses.

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Department of Animal Biotechnology, Mail Stop 202, University of Nevada–Reno, Reno, Nevada 89557, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) 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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