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Bacterial microflora of normal and telangiectatic livers in cattle

Elad I. Stotland MS1, John F. Edwards DVM, PhD, DACVP2, Allen J. Roussel DVM, MS, DACVIM3, and Russell B. Simpson DVM, MS, DACVIM4
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  • 1 Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-4467.
  • | 2 Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-4467.
  • | 3 Department of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-4467.
  • | 4 Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843-4467.

Abstract

Objective—To identify potential bacterial pathogens in normal and telangiectatic livers of mature cattle at slaughter and to identify consumer risk associated with hepatic telangiectasia.

Sample Population—50 normal livers and 50 severely telangiectatic livers.

Procedure—Normal and telangiectatic livers were collected at slaughter for aerobic and anaerobic bacterial culture. Isolates were identified, and patterns of isolation were analyzed. Histologic examination of all livers was performed.

Results—Human pathogens isolated from normal and telangiectatic livers included Escherichia coli O157:H7 and group-D streptococci. Most livers in both groups contained bacteria in low numbers; however, more normal livers yielded negative culture results. More group-D streptococci were isolated from the right lobes of telangiectatic livers than from the left lobes, and more gram-negative anaerobic bacteria were isolated from left lobes of telangiectatic livers than from right lobes. All telangiectatic lesions were free of fibrosis, active necrotizing processes, and inflammation.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The USDA regulation condemning telangiectatic livers is justified insofar as these livers contain more bacteria than normal livers do; however, normal livers contain similar species of microflora. Development of telangiectasia could not be linked to an infectious process. The finding of E coli O157:H7 in bovine livers suggests that information regarding bacterial content of other offal and muscle may identify sources of this and other potential foodborne pathogens and assist in establishing critical control points for the meat industry. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;219:36–39)

Abstract

Objective—To identify potential bacterial pathogens in normal and telangiectatic livers of mature cattle at slaughter and to identify consumer risk associated with hepatic telangiectasia.

Sample Population—50 normal livers and 50 severely telangiectatic livers.

Procedure—Normal and telangiectatic livers were collected at slaughter for aerobic and anaerobic bacterial culture. Isolates were identified, and patterns of isolation were analyzed. Histologic examination of all livers was performed.

Results—Human pathogens isolated from normal and telangiectatic livers included Escherichia coli O157:H7 and group-D streptococci. Most livers in both groups contained bacteria in low numbers; however, more normal livers yielded negative culture results. More group-D streptococci were isolated from the right lobes of telangiectatic livers than from the left lobes, and more gram-negative anaerobic bacteria were isolated from left lobes of telangiectatic livers than from right lobes. All telangiectatic lesions were free of fibrosis, active necrotizing processes, and inflammation.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The USDA regulation condemning telangiectatic livers is justified insofar as these livers contain more bacteria than normal livers do; however, normal livers contain similar species of microflora. Development of telangiectasia could not be linked to an infectious process. The finding of E coli O157:H7 in bovine livers suggests that information regarding bacterial content of other offal and muscle may identify sources of this and other potential foodborne pathogens and assist in establishing critical control points for the meat industry. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;219:36–39)