Submitted to: Environmental Practice
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/4/2004
Publication Date: 9/1/2004
Citation: Brabban, A.D., Nelson, D.A., Kutter, E., Edrington, T.S., Callaway, T.R. 2004. Approaches to controlling Escherichia coli O157:H7, a food-borne pathogen and an emerging environmental hazard. Environmental Practice. 6:208-229. Interpretive Summary: Escherichia coli O157:H7 is a well-known food-borne human pathogen. Recent outbreaks of human illnesses have been linked to environmental contamination by ruminant animals, both domestic and wild. These ruminants can contaminate municipal water systems and recreational waters. The use of pre-harvest intervention strategies can control pathogens in domestic animals, and new methods need to be investigated for wild ruminants.
Technical Abstract: Escherichia coli is a ubiquitous bacterium that lives commensally in the guts of most mammals, including man. However, some types of E. coli are pathogenic to humans, including the Enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), of which E. coli O157:H7 is the most well known member. EHEC are natural members of the gastrointestinal microflora of domestic ruminants (e.g., cattle, goats, sheep), and have been isolated from several wildlife species (e.g. deer, rabbits), and transmission may occur from any of these reservoirs. Although the EHEC are primarily thought of as food-borne pathogens, recent outbreaks have demonstrated other important routes that lead to human exposure, such as contaminated water and dust. As E. coli O157:H7, represent a significant and widespread public health hazard, much effort has been directed toward the development of intervention strategies. Because of the relationship between ruminant animals, wildlife, and EHEC, many of these strategies have focused on reducing EHEC in live animals. In the current review, we examine this group of pathogens and several of the recently developed strategies for reducing illness caused by E. coli O157:H7 and related EHEC.