12 November 1999

Good hygiene limits E coli

GOOD hygiene and careful management of muck will help limit spread of 0157 E coli bacteria, despite a study finding it can survive for long periods on farm.

A study by Central Vet Labs Luke Randall was set up after recent 0157 infections in humans. The bacteria is widespread on farms, but cattle live with it without coming to any harm.

In a report in Vet Record, Oct 23, Mr Randall says infected dung can last up to 38 weeks in straw and on wood or breeze blocks. But when infected dung was mixed with that of normal cattle it survived for a shorter period.

Independent vet consultant Tony Andrews told farmers weekly that other bacteria such as Salmonella can also last for long periods in farm environments. He says good hygiene and care with muck is wise to help cut infection levels.

Heat and UV light can help kill E coli bacteria. "Stacking manure so it heats up and storing slurry in a pit for six weeks kills bugs and helps keep infection levels low."

Straw bedded yards also heat up, killing bacteria, but fresh straw should be kept on top to keep dung off animals, he says.

Slurry-based housing should be kept well-cleaned, and he also advises keeping animals off pasture where slurry or muck is spread for six weeks. &#42