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Objective

To determine the prevalence of fecal shedding of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) with access to cattle pastures.

Design

Survey study.

Sample Population

212 fecal samples from free ranging white-tailed deer.

Procedure

Fresh feces were collected on multiple pastures from 2 farms in north central Kansas between September 1997 and April 1998. Escherichia coli O157:H7 was identified by bacterial culture and DNA-based methods.

Results

Escherichia coli O157:H7 was identified in 2.4% (5/212) of white-tailed deer fecal samples.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

There is considerable interest in the beef industry in on-farm control of E coli O157:H7 to reduce the risk of this pathogen entering the human food chain. Results of our study suggest that the design of programs for E coli O157:H7 control in domestic livestock on pasture will need to account for fecal shedding in free-ranging deer. In addition, the results have implications for hunters, people consuming venison, and deer-farming enterprises. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1999;215:792–794)

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To describe the frequency and distribution of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in the feces and environment of cow-calf herds housed on pasture.

Sample Population—Fecal and water samples for 10 cow-calf farms in Kansas.

Procedure—Fecal and water samples were obtained monthly throughout a 1-year period (3,152 fecal samples from 2,058 cattle; 199 water samples). Escherichia coli O157:H7 in fecal and water samples was determined, using microbial culture.

ResultsEscherichia coli O157:H7 was detected in 40 of 3,152 (1.3%) fecal samples, and 40 of 2,058 (1.9%) cattle had ≥ 1 sample with E coli. Fecal shedding by specific cattle was transient; none of the cattle had E coli in more than 1 sample. Significant differences were not detected in overall prevalence among farms. However, significant differences were detected in prevalence among sample collection dates. Escherichia coli O157:H7 was detected in 3 of 199 (1.5%) water samples.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Implementing control strategies for E coli O157:H7 at all levels of the cattle industry will decrease the risk of this organism entering the human food chain. Devising effective on-farm strategies to control E coli O157:H7 in cow-calf herds will require an understanding of the epidemiologic characteristics of this pathogen. (Am J Vet Res 2000;61:1375–1379)

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research