The objective was to describe variability in prevalence, incidence, and duration of fecal shedding of naturally occurring E. coli O157:H7 by a group of feedlot cattle over time. One hundred steers, randomly assigned to 10 pens, were fed a high-concentrate finishing diet for 136 days (19 weeks). Rectal feces from each animal were tested for E. coli O157:H7 every week for 19 weeks. E. coli O157:H7 was recovered from each animal that completed the study and was detected from at least one animal every week. Average pen prevalence of cattle shedding E. coli O157:H7 varied significantly over time (P < 0.0001) and across pens (P < 0.0001), ranging from 1 to 80%. Pairwise comparisons of mean pen prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 between weeks and estimation of the predicted probability of an incident case of E. coli O157:H7 over time allowed the definition of three distinct phases - namely, the preepidemic, epidemic, and postepidemic periods. Average pen prevalence varied significantly over time (P < 0.01) and across pens (P < 0.001) for all time periods. The odds of an incident case were significantly greater during epidemic and postepidemic periods relative to the preepidemic period (P = 0.0002 and P = 0.03, respectively). Duration of infection was significantly longer for first or second infections that began during epidemic or postepidemic periods relative to the preepidemic period (P < 0.001). Both incidence and duration of shedding peaked during the epidemic period. Pen-level prevalence of cattle shedding E. coli O157:H7 was affected by both incidence and duration of shedding and could be explained by time- or pen-dependent risk factors, or both.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science