Attaching-effacing Escherichia coli Infections in Cattle

Rodney A. Moxley, David R. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Diarrheagenic Escherichia coli are now broadly placed into 6 classes based on virulence mechanisms. One of these classes, enterotoxigenic E coli, is the most common cause of diarrhea in beef and dairy calves in the first 4 days of life. Two other diarrheagenic classes, enterohemorrhagic E coli (EHEC) and enteropathogenic E coli (EPEC), are important causes of disease in human beings, but less well substantiated causes of diarrhea in calves. E coli strains that cause hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic uremic syndrome in humans, express high levels of Shiga toxin, cause attaching-effacing (A/E) lesions in intestinal epithelial cells, and possess a specific 60-MDa EHEC plasmid are known as EHEC. One feature EHEC and EPEC have in common is the causation of intestinal epithelial lesions known as attaching and effacing (A/E). Attaching-effacing E coli (AEEC) is a designation for those E coli strains known to cause A/E lesions or at least carry the genes for this trait, and therefore include organisms that fall into either the EHEC or EPEC classes. Because cattle are carriers of many different serotypes of EHEC, much emphasis has been placed on the public health and food safety concerns associated with the fecal shedding of these organisms. However, much less emphasis has been given to their roles as diarrheagenic pathogens of cattle. The goal of this article is to address the question of pathogenicity, with a review that focuses on the results of studies of natural and experimental infections with these organisms. The authors conclude that there is overwhelming evidence that many different serogroups of AEEC are diarrheagenic pathogens of calves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-56
Number of pages28
JournalVeterinary Clinics of North America - Food Animal Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Attaching-effacing E coli
  • Cattle
  • Diarrheagenic pathogens
  • Escherichia coli

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals


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