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Prevalence Of Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia Coli O157:H7 In A Survey Of Dairy Herds

T Zhao, M P Doyle, J Shere, L Garber

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The prevalence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in dairy herds is poorly understood, even though young dairy animals have been reported to be a host. From February to May 1993, 662 fecal samples from 50 control herds in 14 states, and from June to August 1993, 303 fecal samples from 14 case herds in 11 states were collected for isolation of E. coli O157:H7. Case herds were those in which E. coli O157:H7 was isolated from preweaned calves in a previous U.S. Department of Agriculture study, whereas control herds from which E. coli O157:H7 had not been isolated previously were randomly selected from the same states as case herds. Among the control herds, E. coli O157:H7 was isolated from 6 of 399 calves (1.5%) that were between 24 h old and the age of weaning and from 13 of 263 calves (4.9%) that were between the ages of weaning and 4 months. Eleven of 50 control herds (22%) were positive. Among the case herds, E. coli O157:H7 was isolated from 5 of 171 calves (2.9%) that were between 24 h old and the age of weaning and from 7 of 132 calves (5.3%) that were between the ages of weaning and 4 months. Seven of 14 case herds (50%) were positive. Sixteen of 31 isolates were obtained by direct plating, with populations ranging from 10(3) to 10(5) CFU/g. Fifteen of 31 isolates were isolated by enrichment only. Nineteen of the isolates produced both verocytotoxin 1 (VT-1) and VT-2, whereas 12 produced VT-2 only.