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Abstract

Objective—To determine the prevalence of Salmonella spp in the cecal-colon contents of cull (market) dairy cows at slaughter because of potential public health ramifications.

Design—Survey study.

Sample Population—Cecal-colon contents collected from 5,087 cull (market) dairy cows at slaughter at 5 slaughter establishments across the United States.

Procedure—During 2 periods of the year, winter (January and February) and summer (July through September), 5 cull (market) cow slaughter establishments in the United States—west (WE), southeast (SEE), central (CE), north central (NCE), and south central (SCE)—establishments were visited, and cecalcolon contents of cull dairy cows were obtained at the time of slaughter. Samples were examined by microbiologic culture at a single laboratory for Salmonella spp.

ResultsSalmonella spp were detected in 23.1% of cecal-colon content samples from cull dairy cows across the 5 slaughter establishments. The highest site prevalence (54.5%) was detected at the WE during the summer period, whereas the lowest was found at the CE during the summer (4.3%) and at the NCE during the winter (4.5%). Considerable variation in the daily prevalence of Salmonella spp was found, particularly at the WE and the SCE. Salmonella spp were isolated from 93% of cecal-colon contents collected on a summer day at the WE.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results strongly suggest that there is a high prevalence of Salmonella spp in cull dairy cows at slaughter, which could burden Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point programs implemented in slaughter establishments. Procedures to reduce Salmonella load at the dairy farm and during transport to slaughter could reduce the risk of spread during the slaughter process. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2001;219:1212–1215)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association