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Ecological Distribution of E. coli O157:H7 Strains in Agricultural Environments

Sargeant, Janice
Kansas State University
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The goal of this project is to determine the distribution of genetically identified E. coli 0157:H7 isolates in agricultural environments, as a means to identifying the sources of infection for cattle. This information will allow for the development of land management and water-use practices and policies for the control and/or reduction in the overall prevalence of E. coli O 157:H7 in agricultural food products.

The specific objectives of this project are to quantify the degree of genetic homogeneity of E. coli O 157:H7 isolates recovered from water sources, wildlife, and cattle feces in agricultural range environments, and to define the distributional patterns of E. coli 0157:H7 in agricultural range environments. E. coli 0157:H7 isolates obtained from field-based sampling of cattle, wildlife and water will be genetically defined using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and high resolution genome scanning. We will then compare the degree of genetic similarity of E.coli 0157:H7 strains from cattle, water, and wildlife within and between agricultural areas.

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E. coli 0157:H7 has emerged as a significant health concern, causing illness and death in humans. The source of this pathogen is usually related to contaminated feeds, including beef products. Control of E. coli in the beef industry will require a concerted effort from all segments of the industry, including the farm level. However, the development of effective on-farm control schemes for this pathogen require an understanding of the natural ecology of E. coli 0157:H7 which is presently unknown. It is known that different genotypes of E. coli 0157:H7 exist.

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Escherichia coli
Policy and Planning