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A Direct Plating Method for Estimating Populations of Escherichia coli O157 in Bovine Manure and Manure-Based Materials

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Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreaks associated with produce consumption have brought attention to livestock manures and manure-based soil amendments as potential sources of pathogens for the contamination of these crops. Procedures for enumeration of E. coli O157:H7 are needed to assess the risks of transmission from these manures and their by-products. A direct plating method employing spiral plating onto CHROMagar O157 was investigated for enumeration of E. coli O157:H7 in feedlot surface material, aged bovine manure, bovine manure compost, and manure-amended soil. In studies utilizing samples spiked with a five-strain cocktail of E. coli O157:H7 at levels ranging from 102 to 105 CFU/g of sample, there were strong correlations between the observed and predicted levels of this pathogen. Although the addition of 2.5 mg/liter potassium tellurite and 5 mg/liter novobiocin made the medium more restrictive, these amendments enhanced the ability to identify and enumerate E. coli O157:H7 in feedlot surface material, which contained a higher proportion of fresh feces than did the other three sample types and therefore higher levels of interfering bacterial microflora. The spiral plating method was further assessed to determine its ability to enumerate E. coli O157:H7 in naturally contaminated feedlot surface material. Comparison of E. coli O157:H7 counts in feedlot surface material obtained by the spiral plating method and a most probable number technique were well correlated. We conclude that direct spiral plating onto CHROMagar O157 is effective for estimating E. coli O157: H7 levels in a variety of manures and manure-containing sample types to a lower detection limit of 200 CFU/g. The method has application for determining E. coli O157:H7 concentrations in manures and composts before their sale and use as soil amendments and for measuring the effectiveness of manure treatment processes to reduce or inactivate this pathogen.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: U. S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Roman L. Hruska U. S. Meat Animal Research Center, P. O. Box 166, Spur 18D, Clay Center, Nebraska 68933-0166, USA

Publication date: November 1, 2008

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