Further development of sample preparation and detection methods for O157 and the top 6 non-O157 STEC serogroups in cattle feces.

Conrad, C.C., Stanford, K.I.M., McAllister, T.A., Thomas, J.E., and Reuter, T.R. (2014). "Further development of sample preparation and detection methods for O157 and the top 6 non-O157 STEC serogroups in cattle feces.", Journal of Microbiological Methods, 105, pp. 22-30. doi : 10.1016/j.mimet.2014.06.020  Access to full text

Abstract

Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are food-borne pathogens responsible for outbreaks of human infections worldwide. Ruminant livestock harbor STEC in their intestinal tract, and through fecal contamination possess the potential to compromise the safety of food and water. As a human health safety risk, STEC detection methods on beef carcasses and trim are needed as mandated by the USDA-FSIS. In order to monitor STEC prior to harvest and human consumption, our goal was to evaluate and/or improve detection of seven STEC serogroups in cattle feces. In comparison to traditional approaches, sample processing methods in bovine feces were evaluated using a multi-factorial Latin square design which involved freezing or freeze drying feces. Autoclaved versus non-autoclaved feces were spiked with O26:H11 or O157:H7 serotypes in various dilutions and enriched for up to 6 h. Each hour, enriched aliquots were compared using traditional culture methods and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Furthermore, a 7-serogroup multiplex PCR (mPCR) was developed to detect O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, O145 and O157 serogroups simultaneously. The diagnostic sensitivity of our mPCR assay following 6 h enrichment was superior (10 CFU/g across all serogroups) compared to a previously established PCR assay (10 CFU/g for O26, and O103; ≥ 104 CFU/g for all other serogroups). Obtaining viable isolates appeared to be limited by the efficiency of current immunomagnetic separation (IMS) methods, which ranged from 20 to 100% effectiveness at retrieving colonies depending on serogroup. After IMS, 70 putative STEC isolates were screened for Shiga toxin and attachment genes by mPCR. Sixty-five isolates contained one or both Shiga toxin genes.

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