Two Per Cent of Cattle Could Be 'SuperShedders'

US – Around two per cent of a typical herd could be releasing high levels of pathogenic bacteria in their manure, causing great risk to consumer health.
calendar icon 20 May 2014
clock icon 1 minute read

These ‘supershedders’ increase the chance of Escherichia Coli O157:H7 transferring from the feedlot yard to the packing house.

This is according to US Department of Agriculture research which has also warned that the dangerous bacteria can be found throughout the entire digestive system, not just the lower tract.

Harmless to cattle, E.Coli can cause stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting in humans.

Following studies of 6,000 head of feedlot cattle and more than 13,000 manure, hide and carcass samples, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) team have progressed understanding around E.Coli on cattle farms with food safety and consumer wellbeing as an end goal.

The team has already clarified supershedders can produce all strains of E.Coli and not just one specific strain or strains.

Furthermore, the ARS team has established a measure of success in controlling E.Coli in a herd.

Marcia Wood, a USDA spokesperson said: “In order for a cattle-management strategy to be deemed successful for reducing transmission of O157, no more than 20 per cent of the cattle targeted by the intervention would be shedding the microbe at any one time, and none would be shedding it at supershedder quantities.”


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