CLAY CENTER, Neb. – "Supershedders" are the subject of new research by scientists with the US Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS). An estimated 2 percent of cattle are supershedders that shed high levels of pathogenic organisms such asE. coliO157:H7 in their manure.

Researchers found that in supershedders, O157 colonization may occur throughout the supershedders' entire digestive system. USDA believes this information will help processing-plant managers when evaluating their facility's sanitation procedures. The study also revealed that supershedding was not restricted to any particular O157 strain.

USDA scientist Terrance M. Arthur led the research with his colleagues at the Roman L. Hruska US Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb. The studies included 6,000 head of feedlot cattle and more than 13,000 manure, hide and carcass samples.