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Spiral Plating Method To Quantify the Six Major Non-O157 Escherichia coli Serogroups in Cattle Feces

Shridhar, Pragathi B., Noll, Lance W., Cull, Charley A., Shi, Xiaorong, Cernicchiaro, Natalia, Renter, David G., Bai, Jianfa, Nagaraja, T. G.
Journal of food protection 2017 v.80 no.5 pp. 848-856
Escherichia coli O157, Shiga toxin, cattle, feces, feedlots, genes, humans, intimin, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, serotypes
Cattle are a major reservoir of the six major Shiga toxin–producing non-O157 Escherichia coli (STEC) serogroups (O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145) responsible for foodborne illnesses in humans. Besides prevalence in feces, the concentrations of STEC in cattle feces play a major role in their transmission dynamics. A subset of cattle, referred to as super shedders, shed E. coli O157 at high concentrations (≥4 log CFU/g of feces). It is not known whether a similar pattern of fecal shedding exists for non-O157. Our objectives were to initially validate the spiral plating method to quantify the six non-O157 E. coli serogroups with pure cultures and culture-spiked fecal samples and then determine the applicability of the method and compare it with multiplex quantitative PCR (mqPCR) assays for the quantification of the six non-O157 E. coli serogroups in cattle fecal samples collected from commercial feedlots. Quantification limits of the spiral plating method were 3 log, 3 to 4 log, and 3 to 5 log CFU/mL or CFU/g for individual cultures, pooled pure cultures, and cattle fecal samples spiked with pooled pure cultures, respectively. Of the 1,152 cattle fecal samples tested from eight commercial feedlots, 122 (10.6%) and 320 (27.8%) harbored concentrations ≥4 log CFU/g of one or more of the six serogroups of non-O157 by spiral plating and mqPCR methods, respectively. A majority of quantifiable samples, detected by either spiral plating (135 of 137, 98.5%) or mqPCR (239 of 320, 74.7%), were shedding only one serogroup. Only one of the quantifiable samples was positive for a serogroup carrying Shiga toxin (stx1) and intimin (eae) genes; 38 samples were positive for serogroups carrying the intimin gene. In conclusion, the spiral plating method can be used to quantify non-O157 serogroups in cattle feces, and our study identified a subset of cattle that was super shedders of non-O157 E. coli. The method has the advantage of quantifying non-O157 STEC, unlike mqPCR that quantifies serogroups only.