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This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 89 No. 1, p. 237-244
    Received: Apr 15, 2010
    Accepted: Sept 10, 2010
    Published: December 4, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s):


Use of model super-shedders to define the role of pen floor and hide contamination in the transmission of Escherichia coli O157:H71

  1. K. Stanford 2,
  2. T. P. Stephens* and
  3. T. A. McAllister
  1. Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development, Agriculture Centre, 100, 5401–1st Avenue South, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1J 4V6; and
    Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Lethbridge Research Centre, PO Box 3000, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada T1J 4B1



Super-shedders, cattle shedding at least 104 cfu of Escherichia coli O157:H7 per gram of feces, increase the risks of contaminating the food chain and disseminating the organism through cattle populations. Because detecting super-shedders in cattle populations is laborious and time-consuming, a study was conducted to evaluate the role of hide and pen-floor contamination by model super shedders (MSS) in transmission of E. coli O157:H7. Steers (n = 48) negative for E. coli O157:H7 were allocated to 6 pens, with 2 replicate pens per treatment. Treatment A consisted of 3,000 g of feces inoculated with 106 cfu/g of a 5-strain mixture of nalidixic acid-resistant E. coli O157:H7 and spread in simulated fecal pats on the pen floor for d 0 through 4 and d 14 through 18. For treatment B, 100 g of the feces per day was spread on the perineum of 1 MSS per pen, and the remaining feces was placed on the pen floor as fecal pats similar to treatment A. Treatment C differed from B in that 50 g of feces was spread on the perineum and 50 g on the brisket of the MSS steer. Fecal samples, perineal swabs (500-cm2 area around the anus), freshly voided fecal pats and manila rope samples were collected during a 56-d experimental period. More positive rope samples were found in treatments B and C compared with A (P = 0.05), and steers within treatments B and C were 1.3 times more likely (P = 0.05) to shed E. coli O157:H7 in their feces than steers in treatment A. Even though the number of E. coli O157:H7 introduced into pens was similar, results indicate an increased importance of hide compared with pen-floor contamination for transmission of this organism to cattle. Because cattle within treatment B were persistently colonized with E. coli O157:H7, this design should prove suitable for future studies investigating the role of super-shedders in the transmission of E. coli O157:H7.

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