Date of this Version
Preharvest intervention strategies to reduce Escherichia coli 0157:H7 in cattle have been sought as a means to reduce human foodborne illness. A blinded clinical trial was conducted to test the effect of a vaccine product on the probability that feedlot steers, under conditions of natural exposure, shed E. coli 0157:H7 in feces, are colonized by this organism in the terminal rectum, or develop a humoral response to the respective antigens. Steers (n = 288) were assigned randomly to 36 pens (eight head per pen), and pens were randomized to vaccination treatment in a balanced fashion within six dietary treatments of an unrelated nutrition study. Treatments included vaccination or placebo (three doses at 3-week intervals). Fecal samples for culture (n = 1,410) were collected from the rectum of each steer on pretreatment day 0 and posttreatment days 14, 28,42, and 56. Terminal rectum mucosal (TRM) cells were aseptically collected for culture at harvest (day 57 posttreatment) by scraping the mucosa 3.0 to 5.5 cm proximal to the rectoanal junction. E. coli 0157:H7 was isolated and identified with selective enrichment, immunomagnetic separation, and PCR confirmation. Vaccinated cattle were 98.3% less likely to be colonized by E. coli 0157:H7 in TRM cells (odds ratio = 0.014, P < 0.0001). Diet was also associated with the probability of cattle being colonized (P = 0.04). Vaccinated cattle demonstrated significant humoral responses to Tir and 0157 lipopolysaccharide. These results provide evidence that this vaccine product reduces E. coli 0157:H7 colonization of the terminal rectum of feedlot beef cattle under conditions of natural exposure, a first step in its evaluation as an effective intervention for food and environmental safety.