Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157 is a virulent zoonotic strain of enterohaemorrhagic E. coli. In Scotland (1998-2008) the annual reported rate of human infection is 4.4 per 100,000 population which is consistently higher than other regions of the UK and abroad. Cattle are the primary reservoir. Thus understanding infection dynamics in cattle is paramount to reducing human infections.
A large database was created for farms sampled in two cross-sectional surveys carried out in Scotland (1998 - 2004). A statistical model was generated to identify risk factors for the presence of E. coli O157 on farms. Specific hypotheses were tested regarding the presence of E. coli O157 on local farms and the farms previous status. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) profiles were further examined to ascertain whether local spread or persistence of strains could be inferred.
The presence of an E. coli O157 positive local farm (average distance: 5.96km) in the Highlands, North East and South West, farm size and the number of cattle moved onto the farm 8 weeks prior to sampling were significant risk factors for the presence of E. coli O157 on farms. Previous status of a farm was not a significant predictor of current status (p = 0.398). Farms within the same sampling cluster were significantly more likely to be the same PFGE type (p < 0.001), implicating spread of strains between local farms. Isolates with identical PFGE types were observed to persist across the two surveys, including 3 that were identified on the same farm, suggesting an environmental reservoir. PFGE types that were persistent were more likely to have been observed in human clinical infections in Scotland (p < 0.001) from the same time frame.
The results of this study demonstrate the spread of E. coli O157 between local farms and highlight the potential link between persistent cattle strains and human clinical infections in Scotland. This novel insight into the epidemiology of Scottish E. coli O157 paves the way for future research into the mechanisms of transmission which should help with the design of control measures to reduce E. coli O157 from livestock-related sources.
E. coli O157; Epidemiology; Risk factor; Transmission; Persistence; PFGE
Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) whole cell vaccines have been widely used tools in the control of Johne’s disease in animals despite being unable to provide complete protection. Current vaccine strains derive from stocks created many decades ago; however their genotypes, underlying mechanisms and relative degree of their attenuation are largely unknown.
Using mouse virulence studies we confirm that MAP vaccine strains 316 F, II and 2e have diverse but clearly attenuated survival and persistence characteristics compared with wild type strains. Using a pan genomic microarray we characterise the genomic variations in a panel of vaccine strains sourced from stocks spanning over 40 years of maintenance. We describe multiple genomic variations specific for individual vaccine stocks in both deletion (26–32 Kbp) and tandem duplicated (11–40 Kbp) large variable genomic islands and insertion sequence copy numbers. We show individual differences suitable for diagnostic differentiation between vaccine and wild type genotypes and provide evidence for functionality of some of the deleted MAP-specific genes and their possible relation to attenuation.
This study shows how culture environments have influenced MAP genome diversity resulting in large tandem genomic duplications, deletions and transposable element activity. In combination with classical selective systematic subculture this has led to fixation of specific MAP genomic alterations in some vaccine strain lineages which link the resulting attenuated phenotypes with deficiencies in high reactive oxygen species handling.
Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis; Vaccine; Comparative genomics; Variable genomic island; Attenuation; Microarray
A common approach to the application of epidemiological models is to determine a single (point estimate) parameterisation using the information available in the literature. However, in many cases there is considerable uncertainty about parameter values, reflecting both the incomplete nature of current knowledge and natural variation, for example between farms. Furthermore model outcomes may be highly sensitive to different parameter values. Paratuberculosis is an infection for which many of the key parameter values are poorly understood and highly variable, and for such infections there is a need to develop and apply statistical techniques which make maximal use of available data.
A technique based on Latin hypercube sampling combined with a novel reweighting method was developed which enables parameter uncertainty and variability to be incorporated into a model-based framework for estimation of prevalence. The method was evaluated by applying it to a simulation of paratuberculosis in dairy herds which combines a continuous time stochastic algorithm with model features such as within herd variability in disease development and shedding, which have not been previously explored in paratuberculosis models. Generated sample parameter combinations were assigned a weight, determined by quantifying the model’s resultant ability to reproduce prevalence data. Once these weights are generated the model can be used to evaluate other scenarios such as control options. To illustrate the utility of this approach these reweighted model outputs were used to compare standard test and cull control strategies both individually and in combination with simple husbandry practices that aim to reduce infection rates.
The technique developed has been shown to be applicable to a complex model incorporating realistic control options. For models where parameters are not well known or subject to significant variability, the reweighting scheme allowed estimated distributions of parameter values to be combined with additional sources of information, such as that available from prevalence distributions, resulting in outputs which implicitly handle variation and uncertainty. This methodology allows for more robust predictions from modelling approaches by allowing for parameter uncertainty and combining different sources of information, and is thus expected to be useful in application to a large number of disease systems.
This pathogen may be the next Shiga toxin–producing E. coli of concern.
Escherichia coli O26 and O157 have similar overall prevalences in cattle in Scotland, but in humans, Shiga toxin–producing E. coli O26 infections are fewer and clinically less severe than E. coli O157 infections. To investigate this discrepancy, we genotyped E. coli O26 isolates from cattle and humans in Scotland and continental Europe. The genetic background of some strains from Scotland was closely related to that of strains causing severe infections in Europe. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling found an association between hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and multilocus sequence type 21 strains and confirmed the role of stx2 in severe human disease. Although the prevalences of E. coli O26 and O157 on cattle farms in Scotland are equivalent, prevalence of more virulent strains is low, reducing human infection risk. However, new data on E. coli O26–associated HUS in humans highlight the need for surveillance of non-O157 enterohemorrhagic E. coli and for understanding stx2 phage acquisition.
Escherichia coli O26; Escherichia coli O157; prevalence; pulsed-field gel electrophoresis; PFGE; multilocus sequence typing; MLST; nonmetric multidimensional scaling; NMS; bacteria; Scotland
Motivation: Understanding key biological processes (bioprocesses) and their relationships with constituent biological entities and pharmaceutical agents is crucial for drug design and discovery. One way to harvest such information is searching the literature. However, bioprocesses are difficult to capture because they may occur in text in a variety of textual expressions. Moreover, a bioprocess is often composed of a series of bioevents, where a bioevent denotes changes to one or a group of cells involved in the bioprocess. Such bioevents are often used to refer to bioprocesses in text, which current techniques, relying solely on specialized lexicons, struggle to find.
Results: This article presents a range of methods for finding bioprocess terms and events. To facilitate the study, we built a gold standard corpus in which terms and events related to angiogenesis, a key biological process of the growth of new blood vessels, were annotated. Statistics of the annotated corpus revealed that over 36% of the text expressions that referred to angiogenesis appeared as events. The proposed methods respectively employed domain-specific vocabularies, a manually annotated corpus and unstructured domain-specific documents. Evaluation results showed that, while a supervised machine-learning model yielded the best precision, recall and F1 scores, the other methods achieved reasonable performance and less cost to develop.
Availability: The angiogenesis vocabularies, gold standard corpus, annotation guidelines and software described in this article are available at http://text0.mib.man.ac.uk/~mbassxw2/angiogenesis/
Identifying risk factors for the presence of Escherichia coli O157 infection on cattle farms is important for understanding the epidemiology of this zoonotic infection in its main reservoir and for informing the design of interventions to reduce the public health risk. Here, we use data from a large-scale field study carried out in Scotland to fit both “SIS”-type dynamical models and statistical risk factor models. By comparing the fit (assessed using maximum likelihood) of different dynamical models we are able to identify the most parsimonious model (using the AIC statistic) and compare it with the model suggested by risk factor analysis. Both approaches identify 2 key risk factors: the movement of cattle onto the farm and the number of cattle on the farm. There was no evidence for a role of other livestock species or seasonality, or of significant risk of local spread. However, the most parsimonious dynamical model does predict that farms can infect other farms through routes other than cattle movement, and that there is a nonlinear relationship between the force of infection and the number of infected farms. An important prediction from the most parsimonious model is that although only ∼ 20% farms may harbour E. coli O157 infection at any given time ∼ 80% may harbour infection at some point during the course of a year.
E. coli O157; Transmission dynamics; Model fitting; Model selection; Risk factors
Escherichia coli O157 is an important cause of acute diarrhoea, haemorrhagic colitis and, especially in children, haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). Incidence rates for human E. coli O157 infection in Scotland are higher than most other United Kingdom, European and North American countries. Cattle are considered the main reservoir for E. coli O157. Significant associations between livestock related exposures and human infection have been identified in a number of studies.
Animal Studies: There were no statistically significant differences (P = 0.831) in the mean farm-level prevalence between the two studies (SEERAD: 0.218 (95%CI: 0.141-0.32); IPRAVE: 0.205 (95%CI: 0.135-0.296)). However, the mean pat-level prevalence decreased from 0.089 (95%CI: 0.075-0.105) to 0.040 (95%CI: 0.028-0.053) between the SEERAD and IPRAVE studies respectively (P < 0.001). Highly significant (P < 0.001) reductions in mean pat-level prevalence were also observed in the spring, in the North East and Central Scotland, and in the shedding of phage type (PT) 21/28. Human Cases: Contrasting the same time periods, there was a decline in the overall comparative annual reported incidence of human cases as well as in all the major PT groups except 'Other' PTs. For both cattle and humans, the predominant phage type between 1998 and 2004 was PT21/28 comprising over 50% of the positive cattle isolates and reported human cases respectively. The proportion of PT32, however, was represented by few (<5%) of reported human cases despite comprising over 10% of cattle isolates. Across the two studies there were differences in the proportion of PTs 21/28, 32 and 'Other' PTs in both cattle isolates and reported human cases; however, only differences in the cattle isolates were statistically significant (P = 0.002).
There was no significant decrease in the mean farm-level prevalence of E. coli O157 between 1998 and 2004 in Scotland, despite significant declines in mean pat-level prevalence. Although there were declines in the number of human cases between the two study periods, there is no statistically significant evidence that the overall rate (per 100,000 population) of human E. coli O157 infections in Scotland over the last 10 years has altered. Comparable patterns in the distribution of PTs 21/28 and 32 between cattle and humans support a hypothesized link between the bovine reservoir and human infections. This emphasizes the need to apply and improve methods to reduce bovine shedding of E. coli O157 in Scotland where rates appear higher in both cattle and human populations, than in other countries.
Leptospirosis is the most widespread zoonosis throughout the world and human mortality from severe disease forms is high even when optimal treatment is provided. Leptospirosis is also one of the most common causes of reproductive losses in cattle worldwide and is associated with significant economic costs to the dairy farming industry. Herds are tested for exposure to the causal organism either through serum testing of individual animals or through testing bulk milk samples. Using serum results from a commonly used enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test for Leptospira interrogans serovar Hardjo (L. hardjo) on samples from 979 animals across 12 Scottish dairy herds and the corresponding bulk milk results, we develop a model that predicts the mean proportion of exposed animals in a herd conditional on the bulk milk test result. The data are analyzed through use of a Bayesian latent variable generalized linear mixed model to provide estimates of the true (but unobserved) level of exposure to the causal organism in each herd in addition to estimates of the accuracy of the serum ELISA. We estimate 95% confidence intervals for the accuracy of the serum ELISA of (0.688, 0.987) and (0.975, 0.998) for test sensitivity and specificity, respectively. Using a percentage positivity cutoff in bulk milk of at most 41% ensures that there is at least a 97.5% probability of less than 5% of the herd being exposed to L. hardjo. Our analyses provide strong statistical evidence in support of the validity of interpreting bulk milk samples as a proxy for individual animal serum testing. The combination of validity and cost-effectiveness of bulk milk testing has the potential to reduce the risk of human exposure to leptospirosis in addition to offering significant economic benefits to the dairy industry.
Bayesian; Latent class analysis; Leptospirosis
Recent research has established that the terminal rectum is the predominant colonization site of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7 in cattle. The main aim of the present work was to investigate pathological changes and associated immune responses at this site in animals colonized with E. coli O157:H7. Tissue and gastrointestinal samples from a total of 22 weaned Holstein-cross calves challenged with E. coli O157:H7 were analyzed for bacterial colonization and pathology. Five unexposed age-matched calves were used as comparative negative controls. E. coli O157:H7 bacteria induced histopathological alterations of the rectal mucosa with enterocyte remodeling. This was often associated with removal of the colonized epithelial layer. Immunogold labeling and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) showed E. coli O157 bacteria on pedestals, as part of attaching and effacing lesions. These pathological changes induced a local infiltration of neutrophils that was quantified as larger in infected animals. Rectal mucosal immunoglobulin A responses were detected against the E. coli O157:H7 antigen. This work presents evidence that E. coli O157:H7 is not a commensal bacteria in the bovine host and that the mucosal damage produced by E. coli O157:H7 colonization of the terminal rectum induces a quantifiable innate immune response and production of specific mucosal antibodies.
Escherichia coli O157 infections are the cause of sporadic or epidemic cases of often bloody diarrhea that can progress to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a systematic microvascular syndrome with predominately renal and neurological complications. HUS is responsible for most deaths associated with E. coli O157 infection. From March 2002 to February 2004, approximately 13,000 fecal pat samples from 481 farms with finishing/store cattle throughout Scotland were examined for the presence of E. coli O157. A total of 441 fecal pats from 91 farms tested positive for E. coli O157. From the positive samples, a point estimate for high-level shedders was identified using mixture distribution analysis on counts of E. coli O157. Models were developed based on the confidence interval surrounding this point estimate (high-level shedder, greater than 103 or greater than 104 CFU g−1 feces). The mean prevalence on high-level-shedding farms was higher than that on low-level-shedding farms. The presence of a high-level shedder on a farm was found to be associated with a high proportion of low-level shedding, consistent with the possibility of a higher level of transmission. Analysis of risk factors associated with the presence of a high-level shedder on a farm suggested the importance of the pathogen and individual host rather than the farm environment. The proportion of high-level shedders of phage 21/28 was higher than expected by chance. Management-related risk factors that were identified included the type of cattle (female breeding cattle) and cattle stress (movement and weaning), as opposed to environmental factors, such as water supply and feed.
E. coli O157 is a bacterial pathogen that is shed by cattle and can cause severe disease in humans. Phage type (PT) 21/28 is a subtype of E. coli O157 that is found across Scotland and is associated with particularly severe human morbidity.
A cross-sectional survey of Scottish cattle farms was conducted in the period Feb 2002-Feb 2004 to determine the prevalence of E. coli O157 in cattle herds. Data from 88 farms on which E. coli O157 was present were analysed using generalised linear mixed models to identify risk factors for the presence of PT 21/28 specifically.
The analysis identified private water supply, and northerly farm location as risk factors for PT 21/28 presence. There was a significant association between the presence of PT 21/28 and an increased number of E. coli O157 positive pat samples from a farm, and PT 21/28 was significantly associated with larger E. coli O157 counts than non-PT 21/28 E. coli O157.
PT 21/28 has significant risk factors that distinguish it from other phage types of E. coli O157. This finding has implications for the control of E. coli O157 as a whole and suggests that control could be tailored to target the locally dominant PT.
Chlamydophila abortus is one of the major causes of infectious abortion in pregnant sheep (enzootic abortion of ewes or EAE) worldwide. Organisms shed in infected placentas and uterine discharges at lambing time are the main sources of environmental contamination, responsible for transmission to susceptible animals and possible human contacts. In the present study, a recently developed test, based on a recombinant fragment of the polymorphic outer membrane protein POMP90 (rOMP90-4 indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay [iELISA]) and one based on the variable segment 2 (VS2) region of the major outer membrane protein (MOMP) (MOMP VS2 iELISA) were compared using sera from C. abortus-infected ewes at different stages throughout pregnancy. The rOMP90 iELISA detected antibody much earlier in pregnancy than the MOMP iELISA, which, like the complement fixation test, detected antibody only at the time of abortion or lambing. No anti-MOMP antibody response could be detected in three of seven experimentally infected ewes. Furthermore, the rOMP90 iELISA detected antibody in an animal that seroconverted during the course of the study, which the MOMP iELISA failed to detect. Overall, the results show that the rOMP90-4 iELISA is considerably more sensitive than the MOMP VS2 iELISA for identifying animals infected with C. abortus. Earlier detection of infection will allow appropriate control measures to be taken to reduce environmental contamination, thus limiting the spread of infection, financial losses, and the possible risks of zoonotic transmission to humans.
Escherichia coli O157:H7 is an important cause of diarrhea, hemorrhagic colitis, and potentially fatal human illness. Cattle are considered a primary reservoir of infection, and recent experimental evidence has indicated that the terminal rectum is the principal site of bacterial carriage. To test this finding in naturally colonized animals, intact rectum samples from 267 cattle in 24 separate lots were obtained immediately after slaughter, and fecal material and mucosal surfaces were cultured for E. coli O157 by direct and enrichment methods. Two locations, 1 and 15 cm proximal to the recto-anal junction, were tested. In total, 35 animals were positive for E. coli O157 at at least one of the sites and 232 animals were negative as determined by all tests. The frequency of isolation and the numbers of E. coli O157 cells were higher at the site closer to the recto-anal junction, confirming our previous experimental findings. We defined low- and high-level carriers as animals with E. coli O157 levels of <1 × 103 CFU g−1 or <1 × 103 CFU ml−1 and animals with E. coli O157 levels of ≥1 × 103 CFU g−1 or ≥1 × 103 CFU ml−1 in feces or tissues, respectively. High-level carriage was detected in 3.7% of the animals (95% confidence interval, 1.8 to 6.8%), and carriage on the mucosal surface of the terminal rectum was associated with high-level fecal excretion. In summary, our results support previous work demonstrating that the mucosal epithelium in the bovine terminal rectum is an important site for E. coli O157 carriage in cattle. The data also support the hypothesis that high-level fecal shedding (≥1 × 103 CFU g of feces−1) of enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157 results from colonization of this site.
Escherichia coli O157:H7 causes bloody diarrhea and potentially fatal systemic sequelae in humans. Cattle are most frequently identified as the primary source of infection, and E. coli O157:H7 generally colonizes the gastrointestinal tracts of cattle without causing disease. In this study, persistence and tropism were assessed for four different E. coli O157:H7 strains. Experimentally infected calves shed the organism for at least 14 days prior to necropsy. For the majority of these animals, as well as for a naturally colonized animal obtained from a commercial beef farm, the highest numbers of E. coli O157:H7 were found in the feces, with negative or significantly lower levels detected in lumen contents taken from the gastrointestinal tract. Detailed examination demonstrated that in these individuals the majority of tissue-associated bacteria were adherent to mucosal epithelium within a defined region extending up to 5 cm proximally from the recto-anal junction. The tissue targeted by E. coli O157:H7 was characterized by a high density of lymphoid follicles. Microcolonies of the bacterium were readily detected on the epithelium of this region by immunofluorescence microscopy. As a consequence of this specific distribution, E. coli O157:H7 was present predominately on the surface of the fecal stool. In contrast, other E. coli serotypes were present at consistent levels throughout the large intestine and were equally distributed in the stool. This is a novel tropism that may enhance dissemination both between animals and from animals to humans. The accessibility of this site may facilitate simple intervention strategies.
A survey of 22 farms confirmed the presence of paratuberculosis in wild rabbits in Scotland. Regional differences were apparent in the prevalence of the disease in rabbits, with a significantly higher incidence occurring in the Tayside region. Statistical analysis showed a significant relationship between a previous history or current problem of paratuberculosis in cattle and the presence of paratuberculosis in rabbits on the farms. Molecular genetic typing techniques could not discriminate between selected rabbit and cattle isolates from the same or different farms, suggesting that the same strain may infect and cause disease in both species and that interspecies transmission may occur. The possibility of interspecies transmission and the involvement of wildlife in the epidemiology of paratuberculosis have important implications for the control of the disease.
Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus (JSRV) is a type D retrovirus specifically associated with a contagious lung tumor of sheep, sheep pulmonary adenomatosis (SPA). JSRV replicates actively in the transformed epithelial cells of the lung, and JSRV DNA and RNA have been detected in lymphoid tissues of naturally affected animals. To determine the lymphoid target cells of JSRV, CD4+ T cells, CD8+ T cells, B lymphocytes, and adherent cell (macrophage/monocyte) populations were isolated from the mediastinal lymph nodes of naturally affected sheep and lambs inoculated with JSRV. Cells were enriched to high purity and then analyzed for JSRV proviral DNA by heminested PCR, and the proviral burden was quantitated by limiting dilution analysis. JSRV proviral DNA was found in all subsets examined but not in appropriate negative controls. In sheep naturally affected with SPA, JSRV proviral burden was greatest in the adherent cell population. In the nonadherent lymphocyte population, surface immunoglobulin-positive B cells contained the greatest proviral burden, while CD4+ and CD8+ T cells contained the lowest levels of JSRV proviral DNA. In most of the cases (5 of 8), provirus also could be detected in the peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) population. A kinetic study of JSRV infection in the mediastinal lymphocyte population of newborn lambs inoculated with JSRV found that JSRV proviral DNA could be detected as early as 7 days postinoculation before the onset of pulmonary adenomatosis, although the proviral burden was greatly reduced compared to adult natural cases. This was reflected in the levels found in PBMC since proviral DNA was detected in 2 of 13 animals. At the early time points studied (7 to 28 days postinoculation) no one subset was preferentially infected. These data indicate that JSRV can infect lymphoid and phagocytic mononuclear cells of sheep and that dissemination precedes tumor formation. Infection of lymphoid tissue, therefore, may play an important role in the pathogenesis of SPA.