There’s a lot of dangerous E. coli in cow poop

Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) serogroups O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145, called non-O157 STEC, are important foodborne pathogens., a major reservoir, harbor the organisms in the hindgut and shed them in the feces. Although limited data exist on fecal shedding, concentrations of non-O157 STEC in feces have not been reported. The objectives of our study were (i) to develop and validate two multiplex quantitative PCR (mqPCR) assays, targeting O-antigen genes of O26, O103, and O111 (mqPCR-1) and O45, O121, and O145 (mqPCR-2); (ii) to utilize the two assays, together with a previously developed four-plex qPCR assay (mqPCR-3) targeting the O157 antigen and three virulence genes (stx 1, stx 2, and eae), to quantify seven serogroups and three virulence genes in cattle feces; and (iii) to compare the three mqPCR assays to a 10-plex conventional PCR (cPCR) targeting seven serogroups and three virulence genes and culture methods to detect seven E. coli serogroups in cattle feces.

The two mqPCR assays (1 and 2) were shown to be specific to the target genes, and the detection limits were 4 and 2 log CFU/g of pure culture–spiked fecal samples, before and after enrichment, respectively. A total of 576 fecal samples collected from a feedlot were enriched in E. coli broth and were subjected to quantification (before enrichment) and detection (after enrichment).

cow.poop2Of the 576 fecal samples subjected, before enrichment, to three mqPCR assays for quantification, 175 (30.4%) were quantifiable (≥4 log CFU/g) for at least one of the seven serogroups, with O157 being the most common serogroup. The three mqPCR assays detected higher proportions of postenriched fecal samples (P > 0.01) as positive for one or more serogroups compared with cPCR and culture methods.

This is the first study to assess the applicability of qPCR assays to detect and quantify six non-O157 serogroups in cattle feces and to generate data on fecal concentration of the six serogroups.

Multiplex Quantitative PCR Assays for the Detection and Quantification of the Six Major Non-O157 Escherichia coli Serogroups in Cattle Feces

Journal of Food Protection, January 2016, No. 1, pp. 4-178, pp. 66-74(9)


B. Shridhar, L. W. Noll, X. Shi, B. An, N. Cernicchiaro, D. G. Renter, T. G. Nagaraja, J. Bai