Salmonella is an important cause of food-borne illness in the US and beef has been identified as
a source. Culled dairy cows are a significant source of beef products, particularly ground beef,
and they also frequently carry Salmonella. Understanding factors that contribute to Salmonella
carriage in dairy cattle is important for control purposes. <P>
This study was undertaken
to estimate herd-level burden and identify animal-level predictors of Salmonella carriage in dairy
cattle of the southern High Plains.
Findings: Animals harbor multiple serovars in their feces and to an even greater extent on their hides. In other words, Salmonella appears ubiquitous in cattle populations of the Texas High Plains. Salmonella burden appears to be driven primarily by herd-level factors. The consequence of which is that individual-level factors are relatively meaningless when the likelihood of being Salmonella positive depends primarily in which herd the animal is housed. While not designed to evaluate herd-level determinants, one such factor may be the use of SRP-containing vaccine as those dairies that practiced whole-herd vaccination had an 81% lower prevalence compared to those herds that did not vaccinate (RR=0.19; P < 0.01). Beyond vaccine use, however, substantial farm-to-farm variation is evident and further research is warranted to a) evaluate effect of the vaccine at the herd-level; and b) uncover other herd-level factors that drive Salmonella burden.