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Published in APPLIED AND ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY 77:9 (May 2011), pp. 3002–3008; doi:10.1128/AEM.02238-10


The objective of this study was to determine the time period that Escherichia coli O157:H7 survives on the hides of cattle. Extensive research has been conducted and is ongoing to identify and develop novel preharvest intervention strategies to reduce the presence of E. coli O157:H7 on live cattle and subsequent transfer to processed carcasses. If a reduction of E. coli O157:H7 levels in feces can be achieved through preharvest intervention, it is not known how long it would take for such reductions to be seen on the hide. In the study presented herein, three trials were conducted to follow E. coli O157:H7 hide prevalence over time. For each trial, 36 animals were housed in individual stanchions to minimize or prevent hide contamination events. Through prevalence determination and isolate genotyping with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, survival of E. coli O157:H7 on the hides of live cattle was determined to be short lived, with an approximate duration of 9 days or less. The results of this study suggest that any preharvest interventions that are to be administered at the end of the finishing period will achieve maximum effect in reducing E. coli O157:H7 levels on cattle hides if given 9 days before the cattle are presented for processing. However, it should be noted that interventions reducing pathogen shedding would also contribute to decreasing hide contamination through lowering the contamination load of the processing plant lairage environment, regardless of the time of application.

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