Factors Influencing the Shedding of Verocytotoxin-Producing Escherichia Coli O157 by Beef Suckler Cows

Epidemiol Infect. 2003 Apr;130(2):301-12. doi: 10.1017/s0950268802008208.


A study was designed to investigate management factors that might influence the shedding of verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) O157 by beef cows in Scotland, where there is a particularly high rate of human infection. Thirty-two herds were visited at least monthly over approximately 1 year for collection of fresh faecal pat samples and information on management factors. The faecal pat samples were tested for VTEC O157 by established culture and immunomagnetic separation methods. Questionnaires were completed at the monthly visits to record management factors. Data were analysed using both univariate and multi-factor (GLMM) analysis. Changes in the number of cows in a group, dogs, wild geese, housing, and the feeding of draff (distillers' grains) were statistically significant as risk factors. The event of calving appeared to reduce the likelihood of shedding. Any effects of weaning or turnout were not statistically significant. It appears that the rate of shedding of VTEC O157 is influenced by several factors but possibly the most important of these are the circumstances of animals being housed, or, when outside, the presence of wild geese.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animals
  • Cattle / microbiology*
  • Escherichia coli O157 / isolation & purification*
  • Escherichia coli O157 / pathogenicity
  • Female
  • Meat / microbiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons
  • Shiga Toxins / biosynthesis*


  • Shiga Toxins