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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2008 Dec;6(12):904-12. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2029.

Super-shedding and the link between human infection and livestock carriage of Escherichia coli O157.

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Centre for Infectious Diseases, University of Edinburgh, Kings Buildings, Edinburgh, EH9 3JT, UK.


Cattle that excrete more Escherichia coli O157 than others are known as super-shedders. Super-shedding has important consequences for the epidemiology of E. coli O157 in cattle--its main reservoir--and for the risk of human infection, particularly owing to environmental exposure. Ultimately, control measures targeted at super-shedders may prove to be highly effective. We currently have only a limited understanding of both the nature and the determinants of super-shedding. However, super-shedding has been observed to be associated with colonization at the terminal rectum and might also occur more often with certain pathogen phage types. More generally, epidemiological evidence suggests that super-shedding might be important in other bacterial and viral infections.

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