Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Listeria are foodborne pathogens of critical importance that often colonize cattle. E. coli O157:H7 can be specifically killed by lytic bacteriophage, and lytic bacteriophage treatment has been suggested as a pre-harvest intervention strategy to reduce foodborne pathogens in cattle. To date, no systematic approach to determine the incidence of E. coli O157:H7-infecting lytic bacteriophage has been published. Therefore, the current study was designed to determine (1) the incidence of E. coli O157, Salmonella spp., and Listeria and (2) the incidence of E. coli O157:H7-infecting bacteriophage in the feces of feedlot steers in commercial feedlots in the United States. Fecal samples (n = 60) were collected from four feedlots in two Southern Great Plains states (total n = 240 fecal samples). Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 were found in 3.8% and 11.7% of the fecal samples, respectively. Bacteriophage targeting E. coli O157:H7 were found in all four feedlots, in 15% of the individual fecal samples, and in 55% of the cattle pens. Our results indicate that such bacteriophage are widespread in feedlot cattle, suggesting that further research into the ecological role of bacteriophage in the gastrointestinal tract is needed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Animal Science and Zoology