Little is known of the association of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7/NM (EHEC O157) with disease in naturally infected calves, although cattle have been known as a major source for EHEC O157 outbreaks in humans. In this study, we investigated the occurrence of EHEC O157 in calves associated with/without diarrhoea to examine if EHEC O157 is involved in calf diarrhoea and to characterize the isolates. Four hundred and ninety eight diarrhoeic and non-diarrhoeic young calves from 115 different farms were examined. Of 244 diarrhoeic calves, 24 (9.8%) were positive for EHEC O157, and of 254 non-diarrhoeic calves, 7 (2.8%) were positive. EHEC O157 was recovered from 12/76 (15.79%) of diarrhoeic calves less than 2-week-old, and no EHEC O157 was detected in this age group of non-diarrhoeic calves. This implicates EHEC O157 as a possible cause of the disease in naturally infected neonatal calves. The occurrence of EHEC O157 was relatively lower in the older calves (aged older than 8 weeks) and no significant difference was found in the occurrence rates between these diarrhoeic and non-diarrhoeic calves. PCR analysis of virulence markers revealed that the isolates carried various virulence genes such as Ehly, eae, stx1 and stx2, which underlines the potential importance of these attributes for the infection, colonization and possible pathogenesis of calf diarrhoea.
- EHEC O157
- Escherichia coli
- Genetic and phenotypic characteristics
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