The effect of clinical outbreaks of salmonellosis on the prevalence of fecal Salmonella shedding among dairy cattle in New York

Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2010 Jul;7(7):815-23. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2009.0481.


The objective of this study was to determine if the within-herd prevalence of fecal Salmonella shedding is higher in dairy herds with clinical outbreaks of disease, as compared to herds with subclinical infections only. Data were collected prospectively from dairy herds throughout New York that had at least 150 lactating cows and that received clinical service from participating veterinarians. After enrollment, Salmonella surveillance consisted of both environmental screening and disease monitoring within the herd. Herds positive by either environmental or fecal culture were sampled during three visits to estimate the within-herd prevalence of Salmonella. We characterized isolates by serovar and antimicrobial resistance pattern. Among 57 enrolled herds, 44 (77%) yielded Salmonella-positive samples during the study period; 27 (61%) of the positive herds had Salmonella isolated from environmental samples only, and 17 (39%) had one or more laboratory-confirmed clinical cases. The within-herd prevalence of fecal Salmonella shedding ranged from 0 to 53%. Salmonella Cerro was the predominant serovar, accounting for 56% of all isolates. Antimicrobial resistance ranged from zero to nine drugs, and 14 (32%) of the positive farms generated multidrug-resistant isolates. Herds with laboratory-confirmed clinical cases had a higher prevalence of fecal Salmonella shedding than herds that only generated positive environmental samples, as estimated by a Poisson regression model (prevalence ratio, 2.7; p = 0.01). An association between dairy herd outbreaks of salmonellosis and a higher prevalence of asymptomatic shedding should help guide strategies for reducing the public health threat of Salmonella, as the ability to recognize high-risk herds by clinical laboratory submissions presents an obvious opportunity to maximize food safety at the preharvest level. This is in contrast with other foodborne zoonotic pathogens, such as Campylobacter jejuni and Escherichia coli O157:H7, which occur widely in adult cattle without accompanying clinical disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agglutination Tests
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Shedding*
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cattle Diseases / microbiology
  • Cattle Diseases / physiopathology
  • Dairying* / methods
  • Disease Outbreaks / veterinary*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Housing, Animal
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests / veterinary
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Population Surveillance / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Rectum / microbiology
  • Salmonella / classification
  • Salmonella / isolation & purification*
  • Salmonella Food Poisoning / prevention & control
  • Salmonella Infections, Animal / epidemiology*
  • Salmonella Infections, Animal / microbiology
  • Salmonella Infections, Animal / physiopathology
  • Serotyping / veterinary
  • Severity of Illness Index