Because the rumen is ideally suited for microbial growth, it is no surprise that pathogenic bacteria can also inhabit the rumen. E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella (many serotypes) are foodborne pathogenic bacteria that have been isolated from the rumen. Both Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 can pose a risk to humans via direct animal contact or through consumption of contaminated meat products. Additionally, some Salmonella serotypes can cause severe illness in the host animal. Processing plants do an excellent job of controlling the spread of these pathogens after slaughter; however, foodborne illnesses that are associated with ruminant-derived food products still occur. Therefore, recent research has focused on strategies to reduce these pathogens in animals prior to entry into the food chain.
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