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Sources of Escherichia coli O157 and experiences over the past 15 years in Sheffield, UK

Chapman, P.A.
Journal of applied microbiology 2000 v.88 no.S1 pp. 51S-60S
Escherichia coli O157, adults, calves, farms, fast food restaurants, feces, goats, ground beef, horses, microbiology, milk, monitoring, on-farm research, sheep, sheep breeds, slaughter, slaughterhouses, swine, United Kingdom, United States
In the first documented outbreak of HC caused by Escherichia coli O157, which occurred in the North‐west USA in 1982, there was a strong association between infection and prior consumption of ground beef from a chain of fast food restaurants. Foods of bovine origin, including beef, milk and dairy products, have since been implicated in many outbreaks of infection world‐wide. Investigations during the course of outbreaks, or at random, have shown that cattle are a major reservoir of E. coli O157. E. coli O157 was isolated from cattle at slaughter in Sheffield in 1987, this being the first isolation from cattle in the UK. Following a cluster of cases in May/June 1992, an abattoir study showed the organism to be present in 4% of cattle at slaughter and on up to a third of carcasses from rectal swab‐positive animals. E. coli O157 was isolated from a food source (unpasteurized milk), for the first time in the UK, in Sheffield in May 1993. During surveillance in 1995–6, E. coli O157 was isolated from 157% of cattle, with a monthly prevalence which varied from 5 to 37%. E. coli O157 was also isolated from 22% of sheep. During surveillance in 1996, E. coli O157 was isolated from 59% of samples of lamb products and from 15% of samples of beef products, despite the prevalence in cattle being much higher than in sheep. Work is in progress to try to explain this higher prevalence in lamb products. During 1997 in Sheffield, the only cases of E. coli O157 for which a confirmed source was established were associated with direct animal contact on farm visits. During on‐farm investigations of these cases, E. coli O157 was isolated from faecal samples from adult cattle, calves, three different breeds of sheep, two different breeds of pigs, goats and a pony.