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Molecular epidemiology of Shiga toxinproducing Escherichia coli (STEC) on New Zealand dairy farms: Application of a culture-independent assay and whole-genome sequencing

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posted on 2023-05-03, 10:14 authored by Andrew Springer Browne, Anne Midwinter, Helen Withers, Adrian CooksonAdrian Cookson, Patrick Biggs, Jonathan Marshall, Jackie Benschop, Steve Hathaway, Neville HaackNeville Haack, Rukhshana Akhter, Nigel French
New Zealand has a relatively high incidence of human cases of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC), with 8.9 STEC cases per 100,000 people reported in 2016. Previous research showed living near cattle and contact with cattle feces as significant risk factors for STEC infections in humans in New Zealand, but infection was not linked to food-associated factors. During the 2014 spring calving season, a random, stratified, cross-sectional study of dairy farms (n = 102) in six regions across New Zealand assessed the prevalence of the “Top 7” STEC bacteria (serogroups O157, O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145) in young calves (n = 1,508), using a culture-independent diagnostic test (PCR/MALDI-TOF). Twenty percent (306/1,508) of calves on 75% (76/102) of dairy farms were positive for at least one of the “Top 7” STEC bacteria. STEC carriage by calves was associated with environmental factors, increased calf age, region, and increased number of calves in a shared calf pen. The intraclass correlation coefficient (p) indicated strong clustering of “Top 7” STEC-positive calves for O157, O26, and O45 serogroups within the same pens and farms, indicating that if one calf was positive, others in the same environment were likely to be positive as well. This finding was further evaluated with whole-genome sequencing, which indicated that a single E. coli O26 clonal strain could be found in calves in the same pen or farm, but different strains existed on different farms. This study provides evidence that would be useful for designing on-farm interventions to reduce direct and indirect human exposure to STEC bacteria.

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Rights statement

Copyright © 2018 Browne et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

Language

  • English

Does this contain Māori information or data?

  • No

Publisher

American Society for Microbiology

Journal title

Applied and Environmental Microbiology

ISSN

0099-2240

Citation

Springer Browne, A., Midwinter, A. C., Withers, H., Cookson, A. L., Biggs, P. J., Marshall, J. C., … French, N. P. (2018). Molecular epidemiology of Shiga toxinproducing Escherichia coli (STEC) on New Zealand dairy farms: Application of a culture-independent assay and whole-genome sequencing. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 84(14), e00481–18. doi:10.1128/AEM.00481-18

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