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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1997 Oct;63(10):3878-86.

Evaluation of dietary influences on Escherichia coli O157:H7 shedding by sheep.

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


The effect of diet, an abrupt diet change, and fasting on the shedding of Escherichia coli O157:H7 was investigated with experimentally inoculated sheep as a ruminant model. Sheep were fed a grass hay diet (G), which was low in protein and digestible energy and high in fiber, or a mixture of corn and pelleted alfalfa (C), which was high in protein and digestible energy and low in fiber. After a single oral inoculation of E. coli O157:H7, all the animals shed fecal E. coli O157:H7. However, sheep that were fed G shed the bacterium almost twice as long as, and in larger numbers than, did sheep that were fed C. The number of culture-positive animals increased after the diet was abruptly changed from C to G and decreased with the opposite change (G to C). A 24-h fast did not influence E. coli O157:H7 shedding. Horizontal transmission of infection between animals occurred. Recent shedding of E. coli O157:H7 did not affect recolonization with E. coli O157:H7. The findings presented in this study indicate that preharvest control of diet may reduce the risk of E. coli O157:H7-positive animals entering the food chain.

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