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Corn-Based Distillers' Grains in Diets for Feedlot Cattle Are Associated with the Burden of Escherichia coli O157 in Feces

Chaney, W. Evan, Maloney, Rebecca, Johnson, Bradley J., Brooks, J. Chance, Brashears, Mindy M., Loneragan, Guy H.
Foodborne pathogens & disease 2018 v.15 no.7 pp. 398-405
Escherichia coli O157, agar, agglutination, cattle, cattle feeds, diet, distillers grains, feces, feedlots, finishing, immunomagnetic separation, latex, novobiocin, potassium, slaughter
Inclusion of distillers' grains (DGs) has been associated with increased prevalence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in cattle housed in research settings. Our objective was to quantify the relationship between inclusion of DGs in commercial feedlot rations and the burden of E. coli O157. A convenience sample of 10 feedlots was enrolled based on DG use in finishing diets; 1 cohort included 5 feedlots in which DGs were greater than 15% of the dietary dry matter and the other cohort consisted of 5 feedlots at a concentration less than 8%. Sampling occurred at each feedlot on four occasions at ∼6-week intervals. At each feedlot visit, 4 pens of cattle within 3 weeks of slaughter were selected and 24 freshly voided fecal pats were sampled. Ten-gram samples were enriched in 90 mL of modified tryptic soy broth with novobiocin (20 mg/L) for 14 h at 42°C. Enrichments were subjected to immunomagnetic separation, plating onto chromogenic agar with novobiocin (5 mg/L) and potassium tellurite (2.5 mg/L), incubation for 18 h at 37°C, and latex agglutination of morphologically typical colonies. E. coli O157 was recovered from 16.7% of 3840 samples. Adjusted prevalence was 14.3% after controlling for within-feedlot and within-pen clustering. Prevalence during each sampling period was 19.9% (round 1), 21.0% (round 2), 14.1% (round 3), and 11.7% (round 4). Prevalence varied between cohorts, but this difference varied over time (p = 0.06). Among those with greater than 15% of the diet as DGs, prevalence was greater than those with less than 8% inclusion for all rounds of sampling (p < 0.01). Averaged across time, prevalence was 23.9% and 9.4% for those with greater than 15% and those with less than 8% of DGs, respectively. While observational, these data provide real-world support of reports of increased E. coli O157:H7 burden associated with DG use in cattle diets.