Escherichia coli O157 is a zoonotic bacterium that can cause haemorrhagic diarrhoea in humans and is of worldwide public health concern. Cattle are considered to be the main reservoir for human infection. Fasciola hepatica is a globally important parasite of ruminant livestock that is known to modulate its host’s immune response and affect susceptibility to bacterial pathogens such as Salmonella Dublin. Shedding of E. coli O157 is triggered by unknown events, but the immune system is thought to play a part. We investigated the hypothesis that shedding of E. coli O157 is associated with F. hepatica infection in cattle. Three hundred and thirty four cattle destined for the food chain, from 14 British farms, were tested between January and October 2015. E. coli O157 was detected by immunomagnetic separation and bacterial load enumerated. F. hepatica infection status was assessed by copro-antigen ELISA. A significant association (p = 0.01) was found between the log percent positivity (PP) of the F. hepatica copro-antigen ELISA and E. coli O157 shedding when the fixed effects of day of sampling and the age of the youngest animal in the group, plus the random effect of farm were adjusted for. The results should be interpreted cautiously due to the lower than predicted level of fluke infection in the animals sampled. Nevertheless these results indicate that control of F. hepatica infection may have an impact on the shedding of E. coli O157 in cattle destined for the human food chain.
- Escherichia coli O157
- Fasciola hepatica