Prevalence and Characterization of Salmonella enterica and Salmonella Bacteriophages Recovered from Beef Cattle Feedlots in South Texas.
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Asymptomatic Salmonella carriage in beef cattle is a food safety concern, and the beef feedlot environment may function as a reservoir of this pathogen. The goal of this study was to identify and isolate Salmonella and Salmonella bacteriophages from beef cattle feedlot environments in order to better understand the microbial ecology of Salmonella and identify phages that might be useful as anti-Salmonella beef safety interventions. Three feedlots in south Texas were visited, and 27 distinct samples from each source were collected from dropped feces, feed from feed bunks, drinking water from troughs, and soil in cattle pens (n = 108 samples). Preenrichment, selective enrichment, and selective/differential isolation of Salmonella were performed on each sample. A representative subset of presumptive Salmonella isolates was prepared for biochemical identification and serotyping. Samples were pooled by feedlot and sample type to create 36 samples and enriched to recover phages. Recovered phages were tested for host range against two panels of Salmonella hosts. Salmonella bacteria were identified in 20 (18.5%) of 108 samples by biochemical and/or serological testing. The serovars recovered included Salmonella enterica serovars Anatum, Muenchen, Altona, Kralingen, Kentucky, and Montevideo; Salmonella Anatum was the most frequently recovered serotype. Phage-positive samples were distributed evenly over the three feedlots, suggesting that phage prevalence is not strongly correlated with the presence of culturable Salmonella. Phages were found more frequently in soil and feces than in feed and water samples. The recovery of bacteriophages in the Salmonella-free feedlot suggests that phages might play a role in suppressing the Salmonella population in a feedlot environment.