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Vet Microbiol. 2003 Sep 1;95(3):211-25.

Acid resistance of Escherichia coli O157:H7 from the gastrointestinal tract of cattle fed hay or grain.

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Department of Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-3052, USA.


There has been strong debate as to whether feeding cattle hay prior to slaughter will reduce the number and/or virulence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in the bovine gastrointestinal tract (GIT). This study addressed this issue by comparing numbers, persistence, and acid resistance of generic coliforms and E. coli O157:H7 from various gastrointestinal tract sites of cattle fed grain or hay. Mature Angus steers, doubly cannulated into the rumen and duodenum were inoculated with E. coli O157:H7. Aliquots of digesta from the rumen, duodenum, and rectum were cultured directly or acid shocked (pH 2.0) and then cultured to determine acid resistance. The culture technique used was as sensitive as standard immunomagnetic bead separation protocols. E. coli O157:H7 from hay-fed or grain-fed cattle were similarly acid resistant in all GIT locations. In contrast, generic coliforms from the rumen and rectum of hay-fed animals were more sensitive to an acid shock than coliforms from those GIT locations in grain-fed animals. E. coli O157:H7 colonized the most distal region of the GIT and was not consistently cultured from the rumen or the duodenum. Numbers in the upper GIT did not predict numbers or persistence of E. coli O157:H7 in rectal samples. Grain-feeding or hay-feeding did not affect survival of E. coli O157:H7 in the rumen, nor its passage through the abomasum (pH 2.0) to the duodenum. These data show that generic coliforms behave differently in the bovine host than E. coli O157:H7 and that E. coli O157:H7 acid resistance was independent of animal diet.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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