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J Food Prot. 2000 Nov;63(11):1467-74.

The effect of different grain diets on fecal shedding of Escherichia coli O157:H7 by steers.

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Department of Food Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.


Three groups of six yearling steers (three rumen fistulated plus three nonfistulated) fed one of three different grain diets (85% cracked corn, 15% whole cottonseed and 70% barley, or 85% barley) were inoculated with 10(10) CFU of Escherichia coli O157:H7 strain 3081, and the presence of the inoculated strain was followed in the rumen fluid and feces for a 10-week period. E. coli O157:H7 was rapidly eliminated from the rumen of the animals on all three diets but persisted in the feces of some animals up to 67 days after inoculation, suggesting that the bovine hindgut is the site of E. coli O157:H7 persistence. A significant difference existed in the levels of E. coli O157:H7 shed by the animals among diets on days 5, 7, 49, and 63 after inoculation (P < 0.05). No significant difference was found between the levels shed among diets on days 9 through 42 and on day 67 (P > 0.05). The number of animals that were culture positive for E. coli O157:H7 strain 3081 during the 10-week period was significantly higher for the barley fed group (72 of 114 samplings) as opposed to the corn fed group (44 of 114 samplings) (P < 0.005) and the cottonseed and barley fed group (57 of 114 samplings) (P < 0.05). The fecal pH of the animals fed the corn diet was significantly lower (P < 0.05) than the fecal pH of the animals fed the cottonseed and barley and barley diets, likely resulting in a less suitable environment for E. coli O157:H7 in the hindgut of the corn fed animals. E. coli O157:H7 strain 3081 was present in 3 of 30 (corn, 1 of 10; cottonseed, 1 of 10; barley, 1 of 10) animal drinking water samples, 3 of 30 (corn, 1 of 10; cottonseed, 0 of 10; barley, 2 of 10) water trough biofilm swabs, 5 of 30 (corn, 0 of 10; cottonseed, 2 of 10; barley, 3 of 10) feed samples, and 30 of 30 manure samples taken from the pens during the entire experimental period. Mouth swabs of the steers were also culture positive for E. coli O157:H7 strain 3081 in 30 of 180 samples (corn, 7 of 60; cottonseed, 4 of 60; barley, 19 of 60) taken during the 10-week period. Minimizing environmental dissemination of E. coli O157:H7 in conjunction with diet modification may reduce numbers of E. coli O157:H7-positive cattle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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