Ten Holstein Friesian calves were divided into two groups of five: one group was given prebiotics in their food, while the other group served as the control group. Every two weeks from birth up to 18 months, samples of feces were taken from the rectal ampulla to determine the concentration of E. coli. At each sampling session, three aliquots per sample were collected. The arithmetic mean was calculated and all values (converted into logs) were analysed with GraphPad InStat for analysis of variance, followed by the Tukey-Kramer test. A total of 69 E. coli strains were detected, 29 (42.03%) from treated animals and 40 (57.97%) from the control group. The isolates were analysed by PCR for the presence of the stx-1, stx-2, hly and eae genes and by the Kirby Bauer test for susceptibility to the most commonly used antimicrobials in cattle breeding. Hierarchical clustering of the isolates was done using Ward’s method. Thirty samples were positive for the stx-1 gene, 18 for stx-2, 12 for both stx-1 and stx-2, 8 for hly, and 10 for eae. 4.3% were resistant to sulfamides, 8.6% to tetracycline, 1.4% to gentamicin, 94.6% to cephalothin, 2.8% to chloramphenicol, 13% to ampicillin, 13% to amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, 7.2% to sulphonamides, 4.3% to ceftriaxone, 5.7% to nalidixic acid, 34.7% to ticarcillin, 88.5% to erythromycin, and 5.7% to streptomycin. The isolates from the samples taken from day 210 to day 300 were grouped into a single cluster. Bacteriological examinations showed a reduction in the concentration of E. coli in the feces of the treated animals compared to the control group. The presence of strains with shigatoxigenic Escherichia coli virulence profiles and the reduction of these in the treated animal group demonstrated that diet can play an important role in reducing E. coli prevalence in cattle.
E. coli, STEC, Cattle, Prebiotics