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J Food Prot. 2001 Dec;64(12):1899-903.

Ecological relationships between the prevalence of cattle shedding Escherichia coli O157:H7 and characteristics of the cattle or conditions of the feedlot pen.

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Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 68583-0905, USA.


This study was designed to describe the percentage of cattle shedding Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Midwestern U.S. feedlots and to discover relationships between the point prevalence of cattle shedding the organism and the characteristics of those cattle or the conditions of their pens. Cattle from 29 pens of five Midwestern feedlots were each sampled once between June and September 1999. Feces were collected from the rectum of each animal in each pen. Concurrently, samples of water were collected from the water tank, and partially consumed feed was collected from the feedbunk of each pen. Characteristics of the cattle and conditions of each pen that might have affected the prevalence of cattle shedding E. coli O157:H7 were recorded. These factors included the number of cattle; the number of days on feed; and the average body weight, class, and sex of the cattle. In addition, the temperature and pH of the tank water were determined, and the cleanliness of the tank water and the condition of the pen floor were subjectively assessed. The samples of feces, feed, and water were tested for the presence of E. coli O157:H7. E. coli O157:H7 was isolated from the feces of 719 of 3,162 cattle tested (23%), including at least one animal from each of the 29 pens. The percentage of cattle in a pen shedding E. coli O157:H7 did not differ between feedyards, but it did vary widely within feedyards. A higher prevalence of cattle shed E. coli O157:H7 from muddy pen conditions than cattle from pens in normal condition. The results of this study suggest that E. coli O157:H7 should be considered common to groups of feedlot cattle housed together in pens and that the condition of the pen floor may influence the prevalence of cattle shedding the organism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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