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Adv Exp Med Biol. 1999;473:173-7.

Pathogenesis of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in weaned calves.

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USDA, Agricultural Research Service, National Animal Disease Center, Ames, Iowa 50010, USA.


Cattle are an important reservoir of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 and other enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) that cause diarrhea, hemorrhagic colitis, and hemorrhagic uremic syndrome in humans. One strategy for reducing human foodborne EHEC infections is to reduce the levels of EHEC in cattle. Bovine O157:H7 infection models will facilitate identification of virulence factors involved in bovine infections. O157:H7 cause severe diarrhea and attaching and effacing (A/E) mucosal lesions in colostrum-deprived neonatal (< 2 h) calves. We hypothesized that O157:H7 also cause A/E lesions in older calves, but these were not detected in earlier studies because intestinal levels of O157:H7 were too low (< 10(6) CFU/g of tissue) for detection of focally distributed microscopic lesions. Weaned 3- to 4-month-old calves were fasted 48 h, inoculated via stomach tube with 10(10) CFU of O157:H7 or nonpathogenic E. coli, necropsied 4 d pi and examined histologically. Calves inoculated with O157:H7 had higher intestinal levels of inoculated E. coli than control animals. The rectum was the major site of colonization. A/E lesions were seen in the rectum and cecum of calves with high levels of O157:H7. Weaned calves, like neonatal calves, are susceptible to intestinal damage induced by EHEC O157:H7. The rectum and cecum may be principal sites of EHEC O157:H7 colonization during the carrier-shedder state in cattle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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