Escherichia coli are believed to be associated with postpartum metritis and endometritis but their role in the pathogenesis of both diseases is still undefined. In this study, uterine swabs for E. coli isolation were collected from 374 lactating Holstein cows housed on 4 commercial farms near Ithaca, New York. A total, 125 of 374 cows (33.4%) were positive for E. coli culture. Standard multiplex PCR protocols were used to screen the isolates for the presence of 32 virulence factor genes. Cows that had twin parturition were 4.4 times more likely to have intrauterine E. coli contamination than those that gave birth to single live female calves. Stillborn parturition and birth of single live male calves also increased the odds of intrauterine contamination by E. coli (3.7- and 1.6-fold, respectively) compared with birth of live female calves. Six virulence factors, common to extraintestinal and enteroaggregative E. coli, were found to be associated with metritis and endometritis: fimH, hlyA, cdt, kpsMII, ibeA, and astA. The virulence factor gene fimH was the most prevalent and the most significant: intrauterine E. coli carrying fimH and at least 1 of the other 5 identified virulence factors were pathogenic, and phylogenetic analysis based on the nucleotide sequence of DNA gyrase from 41 such IUEC revealed 2 clades.
- Dairy cow
- Escherichia coli