Incidence, Duration, and Prevalence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 Fecal Shedding by Feedlot Cattle during the Finishing Period

M. L. Khaitsa, D. R. Smith, J. A. Stoner, A. M. Parkhurst, S. Hinkley, T. J. Klopfenstein, R. A. Moxley

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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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1972-1977
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of food protection
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology

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