Environmental sampling to predict fecal prevalence of Salmonella in an intensively monitored dairy herd

J. S. Van Kessel, J. S. Karns, D. R. Wolfgang, E. Hovingh, B. M. Jayarao, C. P. Van Tassell, Y. H. Schukken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Although dairy cattle are known reservoirs for salmonellae, cattle that are shedding this organism are often asymptomatic and difficult to identify. A dairy herd that was experiencing a sustained, subclinical outbreak of Salmonella enterica subsp. enterica Cerro was monitored for 2 years. Fecal samples from the lactating cows were collected every 6 to 8 weeks and tested for the presence of Salmonella. Fecal prevalence of Salmonella fluctuated throughout the observation period and ranged from 8 to 88%. Manure composites and water trough samples were collected along with the fecal samples, and bulk milk and milk filters were cultured for the presence of Salmonella on a weekly basis. Over 90% of the manure composites-representing high-animal-traffic areas - were positive at each sampling. Salmonella was detected in 11% of milk samples and in 66% of the milk filters. Results of weekly bulk milk quality testing (i.e., bulk tank somatic cell score, standard plate count, preliminary incubation count) were typically well within acceptable ranges. Milk quality variables had low correlations with herd Salmonella fecal prevalence. When observed over time, sampling period average prevalence of Salmonella in milk filters closely paralleled fecal prevalence of Salmonella in the herd. Based on results of this study, milk filters appear to be an effective method for monitoring shedding prevalence at the herd level. In-line filter testing is also a more sensitive measure of Salmonella, and perhaps other pathogens, in raw milk than testing the milk alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1967-1973
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of food protection
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology


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