Transmission of foodborne zoonotic pathogens to riparian areas by grazing sheep

Department of Population Medicine, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada.
Canadian journal of veterinary research = Revue canadienne de recherche vétérinaire (Impact Factor: 1.02). 05/2009; 73(2):125-31.
Source: PubMed


The objective of this study was to determine if sheep grazing near riparian areas on pasture in Ontario are an important risk factor for the contamination of water with specific foodborne pathogens. Ten Ontario sheep farms were visited weekly for 12 wk during the summer of 2005. Samples of feces, soil, and water were collected and analyzed for the presence of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp., Campylobacter jejuni and C. coli, and Yersinia enterocolitica, by bacteriological identification and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The data was analyzed as repeated measures over time using mixed models. No samples were positive for Salmonella, and no samples were confirmed positive for E. coli O157:H7 after PCR. Levels of Campylobacter were highest in the soil, but did not differ between soil where sheep grazed or camped and roadside soil that had never been grazed (P = 0.85). Levels of Yersinia were highest in water samples and were higher in soil where sheep had access (P = 0.01). The prevalence of positive Campylobacter and Yersinia samples were not associated with locations where sheep spent more time (Campylobacter P = 0.46, Yersinia P = 0.99). There was no effect of stocking density on the prevalence of Campylobacter (P = 0.30), but as the stocking density increased the levels of Yersinia increased (P = 0.04). It was concluded that although sheep transmit Yersinia to their environment, pastured sheep flocks are not major risk factors for the transmission of zoonotic pathogens into water.

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