Objective—To evaluate seasonal patterns and risk factors for Escherichia coli O157:H7 in feces in a beef cattle herd and determine strain diversity and transition in E coli over time by use of multiple-locus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA) and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).
Sample Population—456 samples of freshly passed feces collected over a 1-year period from cattle in a range-based cow-calf operation located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.
Procedures—E coli O157:H7 was recovered from feces by use of immunomagnetic separation and 2 selective media. Virulence factors were detected via reverse transcriptase-PCR assay. Escherichia coli O157:H7 isolates were subtyped with MLVA and PFGE. Prevalence estimates were calculated and significant risk factors determined. A dendrogram was constructed on the basis of results of MLVA typing.
Results—Overall prevalence estimate for E coli O157:H7 was 10.5%, with the prevalence lowest during the winter. Mean temperature during the 30 days before collection of samples was significantly associated with prevalence of E coli O157:H7 in feces. Nineteen MLVA and 12 PFGE types were identified.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—A seasonal pattern was detected for prevalence of E coli O157:H7 in feces collected from beef cattle in California. Subtyping via MLVA and PFGE revealed a diversity of E coli O157:H7 strains in a cow-calf operation and noteworthy turnover of predominant types. Given the importance of accurately determining sources of contamination in investigations of disease outbreaks in humans, MLVA combined with PFGE should be powerful tools for epidemiologists. (Am J Vet Res 2010;71:1339–1347)