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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011 Jun;77(11):3715-9. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02831-10. Epub 2011 Apr 8.

Fecal carriage and shedding density of CTX-M extended-spectrum {beta}-lactamase-producing escherichia coli in cattle, chickens, and pigs: implications for environmental contamination and food production.

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Department of Bacteriology, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Weybridge, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB, United Kingdom.


The number and proportion of CTX-M positive Escherichia coli organisms were determined in feces from cattle, chickens, and pigs in the United Kingdom to provide a better understanding of the risk of the dissemination of extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL) bacteria to humans from food animal sources. Samples of bovine (n = 35) and swine (n = 20) feces were collected from farms, and chicken cecal contents (n = 32) were collected from abattoirs. There was wide variation in the number of CTX-M-positive E. coli organisms detected; the median (range) CFU/g were 100 (100 × 10(6) to 1 × 10(6)), 5,350 (100 × 10(6) to 3.1 × 10(6)), and 2,800 (100 × 10(5) to 4.7 × 10(5)) for cattle, chickens, and pigs, respectively. The percentages of E. coli isolates that were CTX-M positive also varied widely; median (range) values were 0.013% (0.001 to 1%) for cattle, 0.0197% (0.00001 to 28.18%) for chickens, and 0.121% (0.0002 to 5.88%) for pigs. The proportion of animals designated high-density shedders (≥1 × 10(4) CFU/g) of CTX-M E. coli was 3/35, 15/32, and 8/20 for cattle, chickens, and pigs, respectively. We postulate that high levels of CTX-M E. coli in feces facilitate the dissemination of bla(CTX-M) genes during the rearing of animals for food, and that the absolute numbers of CTX-M bacteria should be given greater consideration in epidemiological studies when assessing the risks of food-borne transmission.

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