Journal Article

<i>Escherichia coli</i> O157:H7 colonization in small domestic ruminants

Roberto M. La Ragione, Angus Best, Martin J. Woodward and Andrew D. Wales

in FEMS Microbiology Reviews

Volume 33, issue 2, pages 394-410
Published in print March 2009 |
Published online February 2009 | e-ISSN: 1574-6976 | DOI:

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Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 was first implicated in human disease in the early 1980s, with ruminants cited as the primary reservoirs. Preliminary studies indicated cattle to be the sole source of E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks in humans; however, further epidemiological studies soon demonstrated that E. coli O157:H7 was widespread in other food sources and that a number of transmission routes existed. More recently, small domestic ruminants (sheep and goats) have emerged as important sources of E. coli O157:H7 human infection, particularly with the widespread popularity of petting farms and the increased use of sheep and goat food products, including unpasteurized cheeses. Although the colonization and persistence characteristics of E. coli O157:H7 in the bovine host have been studied intensively, this is not the case for small ruminants. Despite many similarities to the bovine host, the pathobiology of E. coli O157:H7 in small domestic ruminants does appear to differ significantly from that described in cattle. This review aims to critically review the current knowledge regarding colonization and persistence of E. coli O157:H7 in small domestic ruminants, including comparisons with the bovine host where appropriate.

Keywords: sheep; goats; Escherichia coli O157:H7; colonization; persistence

Journal Article.  11750 words.  Illustrated.

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