In this study, five abattoirs in Istanbul were visited between January 2000 and April 2001. During these visits, 330 cattle were selected by a systematic sampling method. Cattle were examined clinically and breed, age, and sex were recorded. Rectal swabs were taken immediately after slaughter. Immunomagnetic separation was performed, and sorbitol-negative colonies were selected on sorbitol MacConkey agar with cefixime and tellurite (CT-SMAC agar). These colonies were checked for 4-methylenebelliferyl-β-d-glucuronide, indol, rhamnose, and urease activity and motility. Serotypes of bacteria were determined by using antisera specific for Escherichia coli O157 and H7. All cattle selected were clinically healthy. Of 88 sorbitol-negative colonies selected on CT-SMAC agar, isolates from only 14 (4.2%) cattle reacted with anti-O157, and 13 of these isolates also reacted with anti-H7. E. coli O157:H7 was isolated from all breeds, but the numbers of isolates were largest for Holstein and Swiss Brown cows. E. coli O157:H7 was most frequently isolated from 2-year-old cattle. Similarly, it was most frequently isolated from male cattle. E. coli O157:H7 was isolated from cattle slaughtered in four of the five abattoirs studied.

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