• The virulence of E. coli 0157:H7 isolated from Irish sheep and pigs to humans

      Lenahan, Mary; Sheridan, James J.; O'Brien, Stephen (Teagasc, 2008-02)
      Investigations were carried out at five sheep and five pig export abattoirs situated in the Republic of Ireland to determine the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 in these animals at slaughter. This is the first study for the presence of E. coli O157:H7 on sheep and pigs to be carried out in Ireland. Faeces and pre- and post-chill carcass swabs were collected from pigs over a one year period between January and December 2004. Samples were collected from sheep over a 13-month period between February 2005 and February 2006. The pig study recovered E. coli O157:H7 from 0.24 % (n=4) of 1680 porcine samples while the sheep study isolated the pathogen from 2.1 % (n=33) of 1600 ovine samples. PCR analysis of E. coli O157:H7 isolates determined that they carried the virulence genes vt1, vt2, eaeA and hlyA typically associated with clinical illness in humans. The results presented indicate that Irish sheep and pigs are reservoirs for E. coli O157:H7 which may be potentially harmful to humans.