Comparison of fecal samples collected per rectum and off the ground for estimation of environmental contamination attributable to beef cattle

Bruce R. Hoar From the Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 (Hoar, Atwill); USDA, 2789 Orange Ave, Fresno, CA 93725 (Elmi): USDA, 9580 Micron Ave, Ste E, Sacramento, CA 95827 (Utterback); California Department of Agriculture, 1220 N Street, A-107, Sacramento, CA 95814 (Edmondson).

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Edward R. Atwill From the Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 (Hoar, Atwill); USDA, 2789 Orange Ave, Fresno, CA 93725 (Elmi): USDA, 9580 Micron Ave, Ste E, Sacramento, CA 95827 (Utterback); California Department of Agriculture, 1220 N Street, A-107, Sacramento, CA 95814 (Edmondson).

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Cyrus Elmi From the Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 (Hoar, Atwill); USDA, 2789 Orange Ave, Fresno, CA 93725 (Elmi): USDA, 9580 Micron Ave, Ste E, Sacramento, CA 95827 (Utterback); California Department of Agriculture, 1220 N Street, A-107, Sacramento, CA 95814 (Edmondson).

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William W. Utterback From the Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 (Hoar, Atwill); USDA, 2789 Orange Ave, Fresno, CA 93725 (Elmi): USDA, 9580 Micron Ave, Ste E, Sacramento, CA 95827 (Utterback); California Department of Agriculture, 1220 N Street, A-107, Sacramento, CA 95814 (Edmondson).

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Anita J. Edmondson From the Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616 (Hoar, Atwill); USDA, 2789 Orange Ave, Fresno, CA 93725 (Elmi): USDA, 9580 Micron Ave, Ste E, Sacramento, CA 95827 (Utterback); California Department of Agriculture, 1220 N Street, A-107, Sacramento, CA 95814 (Edmondson).

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Abstract

Objectives

To determine whether sampling feces off the ground replicates prevalence estimates for specific pathogens obtained from fecal samples collected per rectum of adult cows, and to determine characteristics of feces on the ground (fecal pats) that are associated with subsequent identification of Campylobacter spp, Cryptosporidium parvum, and Giardia duodenalis.

Animals

A random sample of adult beef cattle from 25 herds located throughout California.

Procedure

1,115 rectal and ground fecal samples were obtained. Samples were submitted for culture of Campylobacter spp and examined, using a direct fluorescent antibody assay, to detect C parvum oocysts and G duodenalis cysts. Characteristics of fecal pats, such as volume and consistency, were recorded.

Results

Prevalence of Campylobacter spp was 5.0% (20/401) for rectal fecal samples, which was significantly greater than prevalence determined for ground fecal samples (2/402; 0.5%). Most isolates were C jejuni subsp jejuni. Prevalence of C parvum was higher in rectal fecal samples (6/557; 1.1%) than in ground fecal samples (1/558; 0.2%), but this difference was not significant. Prevalence of G duodenalis did not differ for rectal (36/557; 6.5%) versus ground (26/558; 4.7%) fecal samples.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

Evaluation of ground fecal samples may not accurately indicate the prevalence of Campylobacter spp or C parvum in cattle but may reflect prevalence of G duodenalis Differences in prevalence estimates between the 2 methods suggest inactivation of pathogens in feces after cattle have defecated. Prevalence estimates generated by evaluation of ground fecal samples, however, may more accurately estimate environmental pathogen burden. (Am J Vet Res 1999;60:1352–1356)

Abstract

Objectives

To determine whether sampling feces off the ground replicates prevalence estimates for specific pathogens obtained from fecal samples collected per rectum of adult cows, and to determine characteristics of feces on the ground (fecal pats) that are associated with subsequent identification of Campylobacter spp, Cryptosporidium parvum, and Giardia duodenalis.

Animals

A random sample of adult beef cattle from 25 herds located throughout California.

Procedure

1,115 rectal and ground fecal samples were obtained. Samples were submitted for culture of Campylobacter spp and examined, using a direct fluorescent antibody assay, to detect C parvum oocysts and G duodenalis cysts. Characteristics of fecal pats, such as volume and consistency, were recorded.

Results

Prevalence of Campylobacter spp was 5.0% (20/401) for rectal fecal samples, which was significantly greater than prevalence determined for ground fecal samples (2/402; 0.5%). Most isolates were C jejuni subsp jejuni. Prevalence of C parvum was higher in rectal fecal samples (6/557; 1.1%) than in ground fecal samples (1/558; 0.2%), but this difference was not significant. Prevalence of G duodenalis did not differ for rectal (36/557; 6.5%) versus ground (26/558; 4.7%) fecal samples.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance

Evaluation of ground fecal samples may not accurately indicate the prevalence of Campylobacter spp or C parvum in cattle but may reflect prevalence of G duodenalis Differences in prevalence estimates between the 2 methods suggest inactivation of pathogens in feces after cattle have defecated. Prevalence estimates generated by evaluation of ground fecal samples, however, may more accurately estimate environmental pathogen burden. (Am J Vet Res 1999;60:1352–1356)

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