Chapter 18 : O157:H7 in Reservoir Hosts

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This chapter identifies epidemiologic and ecologic factors within the animal reservoir that are insufficiently understood but which may offer potential for control of O157:H7. O157:H7 has been isolated from a diverse set of animal host species, in which it generally is not associated with any clinical abnormalities. The chapter describes the role of the reservoir in the epidemiology of zoonotic O157:H7 infections, and discusses evolution of O157:H7 and the animal reservoir. Considerable emphasis has been placed on characterizing O157:H7 colonization of domestic ruminants, particularly cattle and sheep, compared to other host species due to their prominence as sources of human infection. This work has included prevalence; descriptive epidemiology of O157:H7 shedding; identifying farm management factors associated with high prevalence of animal infection; and investigating the effects of vaccines, probiotics, and other interventions. Seasonal variation of O157:H7 fecal shedding by cattle has been reported in geographically diverse regions. There is little evidence that O157:H7 is a ‘‘professional pathogen’’; rather, it is a well-adapted commensal of numerous animal hosts. It has considerable strain diversity within cattle, and only a subset of strains is strongly associated with human disease. As the agent first came to human attention due to the severity of disease, it is natural that research attention has been primarily focused on pathogenesis.

Citation: Besser T, Davis M, Walk S. 2011. O157:H7 in Reservoir Hosts, p 303-324. In Walk S, Feng P (ed), Population Genetics of Bacteria. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817114.ch18

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Image of Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Seasonal prevalence variation of O157:H7 in dairy and beef cattle herds ( ) and the number of reported O157:H7 cases in the United States in 2003.

Citation: Besser T, Davis M, Walk S. 2011. O157:H7 in Reservoir Hosts, p 303-324. In Walk S, Feng P (ed), Population Genetics of Bacteria. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817114.ch18
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Image of Figure 2.
Figure 2.

Hypothetical reservoir structures of zoonotic O157:H7, after Haydon et al. ( ). Non-maintenance populations are species whose critical community size or transmission characteristics preclude persistence in that host alone. Maintenance populations are those capable of persistently harboring the agent without the requirement of additional hosts. The target population for O157:H7 in this analysis is human. Maintenance communities are assemblies of non-maintenance hosts that combined are capable of persistently maintaining the agent. The reservoir includes both maintenance and non-maintenance hosts in which the agent persists. (A) In much of the literature, cattle are described as the reservoir of O157:H7, implying maintenance population status. This simplification fails to take into account the dearth of cattle infection in the winter and the existence of other species (sheep, horses, birds, etc.) documented to be sources of human infection. (B) The simplified reservoir structure expanded to illustrate the existence of other host species (O, O) capable of being infected with and transmitting the agent to humans. (C) A reservoir structure illustrating the possibility that cattle and other host species, none of which alone are maintenance hosts, may collectively comprise a maintenance community. The other hosts are those observed to be sources of human infection, whereas the alternative hosts may include diverse potential cryptic hosts such as protozoa, nematodes, or coprophagous insects, non-maintenance hosts that may nevertheless enable agent persistence through seasons when C or O host infection is rare or absent. (D) An alternative possible reservoir structure, illustrating the possibility that alternative hosts are actually the maintenance population. In alternatives C and D, control measures directed at alternative hosts have significant potential for disease control.

Citation: Besser T, Davis M, Walk S. 2011. O157:H7 in Reservoir Hosts, p 303-324. In Walk S, Feng P (ed), Population Genetics of Bacteria. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817114.ch18
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Table 1.

PubMed citations of EHEC O157 reveal research emphasis

Citation: Besser T, Davis M, Walk S. 2011. O157:H7 in Reservoir Hosts, p 303-324. In Walk S, Feng P (ed), Population Genetics of Bacteria. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817114.ch18

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