Up the butt: Clearance of E.coli O157:H7 infection in calves by rectal administration of bovine lactoferrin

Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) strains, of which E. coli O157:H7 is the best-studied serotype, are an important group of foodborne pathogens causing severe illness in humans worldwide.

calfThe main reservoirs for EHEC are ruminants, mostly cattle, which harbor the bacteria in their intestinal tracts without showing clinical symptoms. In this study, we used bovine lactoferrin, a natural occurring bactericidal and immunomodulating protein, as an antibacterial agent against EHEC infection in cattle.

Nine 3-month-old Holstein-Friesian calves were experimentally infected with EHEC (strain NCTC12900). Three animals received a daily rectal spray treatment with bovine lactoferrin, three animals received an oral treatment, and three animals served as a control group. Blood samples were collected weekly and fecal samples twice weekly to monitor antibody responses and fecal excretion, respectively. Animals in the rectal group ceased shedding within 26 days of the experimental treatment and remained negative. This beneficial effect of bovine lactoferrin was not observed in the oral group, where animals were still shedding at the time of euthanasia (day 61). All groups developed serum responses, but no clear differences could be observed between the groups. However, the results indicate that the use of bovine lactoferrin as a rectal treatment can be a useful strategy to preclude further transmission of EHEC infections from cattle to humans.

Clearance of Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infection in calves by rectal administration of bovine lactoferrin

Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Kieckens E, Rybarczyk J, De Zutter L, Duchateau L, Vanrompay D, and Cox E


20 firefighters sickened with cryptosporidium after rescuing calves in barn fire

We have a hockey friend near Guelph who is forever creating News-of-the-World type drama to keep his mates entertained. Like the girlfriend who held his cat hostage in a bar; missing hockey because he fell off a roof, and having his tractor spontaneously combust and burn his father’s Lincoln SUV also parked in the barn.

This summary from the Centers for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report didn’t involve our hockey friend, but could have.

On June 6, 2011, a fire occurred in a barn housing approximately 240 week-old calves. A total of 34 firefighters responded from three Michigan fire stations and one Indiana fire station. Local hydrant water and onsite swimming pond water were used to extinguish the fire.

On June 20, 2011, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security notified the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) of an Indiana fire station that reported gastrointestinal illness among a substantial percentage of their workers, causing missed workdays and one hospitalization as a result of cryptosporidiosis.

All ill firefighters had responded to a barn fire in Michigan, 15 miles from the Michigan-Indiana border on June 6; responding firefighters from Michigan also had become ill. ISDH immediately contacted the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) concerning this outbreak. The investigation was led by MDCH in partnership with ISDH and the Michigan local health department (LHD). Among 34 firefighters who responded to the fire, 33 were interviewed, and 20 (61%) reported gastrointestinal illness ≤12 days after the fire.

Cryptosporidium parvum was identified in human stool specimens, calf fecal samples, and a swimming pond. Based on these findings, the following public health recommendations were issued: 1) discontinue swimming in the pond, 2) practice thorough hygiene to reduce fecal contamination and fecal-oral exposures, and 3) decontaminate firefighting equipment properly. No additional primary or secondary cases associated with this exposure have been reported. The findings highlight a novel work-related disease exposure for firefighters and the need for public education regarding cryptosporidiosis prevention.

The complete report is available at:

UK farmer fears roosting starlings may cause salmonella in dairy calves, milk

The Brits love their birds.

But not so for a dairy farmer from the Somerset Levels who told BBC News
that roosting starlings and their salmonella-laden poop contaminating feed has led to the loss of 40 calves and is costing his business up to £40,000 a year.

He fears the droppings may also result in salmonella in his cattle’s dairy milk.

Thousands of starlings migrate from Baltic countries, such as Russia, to Somerset and other parts of the UK over the winter months.

In recent years their murmurations as they prepare to roost have become a major attraction for wildlife enthusiasts.

RSPB spokesman, Graham Madge, said, "The fact that starlings are visiting Somerset are not because the RSPB are encouraging them, it’s basically because these birds can find plenty of food in areas that are relatively warm for the winter.”

AVMA’s new veal welfare policy

The American Veterinary Medical Association announced last week that they had passed a groundbreaking policy on veal calf housing that promotes both animal health and welfare. The resolution passed by a landslide 88.7 percent vote.

The new policy states "that the AVMA supports a change in veal husbandry practices that severely restrict movement, to housing systems that allow for greater freedom of movement without compromising health or welfare."

The former policy consisted of only a few points on living conditions, including that the area the calves are kept in permits them to stretch, stand, and lie down comfortably.

"This is encouraging on two levels," explains Dr. Ron DeHaven, AVMA chief executive officer. "First, we are proactively seeking to improve the welfare of veal calves, and second, the resolution still affords the AVMA Animal Welfare Committee the opportunity to do a comprehensive analysis of the science and to consider all relevant perspectives of veal calf production."

The confinement of veal calves and other farm animals is one of many issues that animal activists are passionate about.  Currently the Human Society of the United States is leading a campaign in California to pass legislation know as Proposition 2.  Prop 2 is aimed mostly towards egg-laying hens, pregnant sows, and calves raised for veal in order to improve their living conditions.  Perhaps the steps taken by the AVMA with new veal calf policies will help to continue their campaign.