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Influence of age, sex and herd characteristics on the occurrence of verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli O157 in Danish dairy farms

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Abstract

Verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) O157 is an important emerging human pathogen. Cattle are considered to be the main reservoir for VTEC O157. The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence of VTEC O157 in Danish dairy herds and to investigate the relationship between shedding of VTEC O157 and a number of animal and herd characteristics. Sixty dairy farms were visited once in August-October, and from each herd faecal samples from up to 50 animals were analysed for VTEC O157 by enrichment, immunomagnetic separation (IMS), and plating on selective agar. In total, 2419 animals were sampled, and 3.6% of these excreted VTEC O157. These animals were located on 10 farms (17%). On average, 21% of the sampled animals in the positive herds excreted VTEC O157. Register data, including age, sex, breed, housing conditions and herd composition, were extracted from a database. No influence of herd size or housing conditions was found. A strong effect of age was seen with 2-6-month-old calves as the high-risk age group (8.6% positive) in contrast to calves

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