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Isolation and Characterization of Shiga Toxin–Producing Escherichia coli Serogroups O26, O45, O103, O111, O113, O121, O145, and O157 Shed from Range and Feedlot Cattle from Postweaning to Slaughter

Abel B. Ekiri, Douglas Landblom, Dawn Doetkott, Susan Olet, Weilin L. Shelver, Margaret L. Khaitsa
Journal of food protection 2014 v.77 no.7 pp. 1052-1061
Escherichia coli O157, Escherichia coli O26, Food Safety and Inspection Service, adulterated products, bacterial shedding, beef cows, calves, disease prevalence, feces, feedlots, finishing, foodborne illness, genes, isolation techniques, pathogen identification, polymerase chain reaction, rectum, serotypes, slaughter, steers, virulence, weaning, United States
Cattle are the main reservoirs for Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) strains. E. coli O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, O145, and O157 are among the STEC serogroups that cause severe foodborne illness and have been declared as adulterants by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service. The objectives of this study were (i) to estimate the prevalence of non-O157 STEC and E. coli O157 in naturally infected beef cows and in steer calves at postweaning, during finishing, and at slaughter and (ii) to test non-O157 STEC isolates for the presence of virulence genes stx1, stx2, eaeA, and ehlyA. Samples were collected from study animals during multiple sampling periods and included fecal grabs, rectal swabs, and midline sponge samples. Laboratory culture, PCR, and multiplex PCR were performed to recover and identify E. coli and the virulence genes. The prevalence of non-O157 STEC (serogroups O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, O113, and O145) fecal shedding ranged from 8% (4 of 48 samples) to 39% (15 of 38 samples) in cows and 2% (1 of 47 samples) to 38% (9 of 24 samples) in steer calves. The prevalence of E. coli O157 fecal shedding ranged from 0% (0 of 38 samples) to 52% (25 of 48 samples) in cows and 2% (1 of 47 samples) to 31% (15 of 48 samples) in steer calves. In steer calves, the prevalence of non-O157 STEC and E. coli O157 was highest at postweaning, at 16% (15 of 96 samples) and 23% (22 of 96 samples), respectively. Among the 208 non-O157 STEC isolates, 79% (164 isolates) had stx1, 79% (165 isolates) had stx2, and 58% (121 isolates) had both stx1 and stx2 genes. The percentage of non-O157 STEC isolates encoding the eaeA gene was low; of the 165 isolates tested, 8 (5%) were positive for eaeA and 135 (82%) were positive for ehlyA. Findings from this study provide further evidence of non-O157 STEC shedding in beef cows and steer calves particularly at the stage of postweaning and before entry into the feedlot.