Shiga toxin–producing (STEC), particularly STEC O157, cause rare but potentially serious human infections. Infection with STEC occurs by fecal-oral transmission, most commonly through food. Cattle are the most important reservoir for human STEC exposure, and efforts to control the flow of STEC through beef processing have reduced rates of human illness. However, further reduction in human incidence of STEC may require control of the pathogen in cattle populations. The ecology of STEC in cattle production systems is complex and explained by factors that favor () colonization in the gut, () survival in the environment, and () ingestion by another cattle host. Although nature creates seasonal environmental conditions that do not favor STEC transmission in cattle, human efforts to control STEC by environmental manipulation have not succeeded. Vaccines and direct-fed microbial products have reduced the carriage of STEC by cattle, and other interventions are under investigation.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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