Farm practices to control E-coli O157 in young cattle - A randomised controlled trial

Ellis-Iversen, J and Smith, R P and Van Winden, S C L and Paiba, G A and Watson, E and Snow, L C and Cook, A J C (2008) Farm practices to control E-coli O157 in young cattle - A randomised controlled trial. VETERINARY RESEARCH, 39 (1).

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A randomised controlled trial was used to investigate the effect of three complex management intervention packages to reduce the burden of E. coli O157 in groups of young-stock on cattle farms in England and Wales. All intervention farms were assigned measures to avoid buying in new animals and having direct contact or sharing water sources with other cattle. Furthermore, package A ( 7 farms) aimed to keep a clean environment and closed groups of young-stock; package B ( 14 farms) aimed for improved water and feed hygiene, whilst package C was assigned both A and B. The control farms ( 26 farms) were asked not to alter their practices. Farms, which were assigned intervention package A, exhibited a 48% reduction in E. coli O157 burden over the 4.5 months ( average) of observation, compared to 18% on the control farms. The effect of package A compared to the control farms in a crude intention-to-treat model was RR = 0.26 ( p = 0.122). When the risk ratio was adjusted for actual application of the different measures, the effect of intervention package A became stronger and statistically significant ( RR = 0.14 p = 0.032). Statistical evidence ( p < 0.05) showed that dry bedding and maintaining animals in the same groups were the most important measures within the package and weak evidence ( p < 0.1) showed that a closed herd policy and no contact with other cattle may also be of importance. Compliance with the other measures in package A had no influence on the effect of the package. No evidence of effect of the other two intervention packages was found.