The fecal shedding and pathogenicity of enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) O26:H11, EHEC O111:NM, and EHEC O157:H7 in weaned calves (8 to 10 weeks of age) were compared with and without treatment with a three-strain mixture of probiotic bacteria (competitive-exclusion E. coli). Three groups of 12 calves were each perorally given a five-strain mixture of one of the EHEC serotypes (1010 CFU of total bacteria per calf). Seventy-two hours later, six calves from each group were each administered 1010 CFU of probiotic bacteria. None of the EHEC serotypes caused significant clinical disease, although a few calves developed mild transient diarrhea or pyrexia. Gross or microscopic lesions attributable to EHEC were not detected in control or probiotic-treated calves at necropsy. For probiotic-treated calves given E. coli O157:H7 and for probiotic-treated calves given E. coli O111:NM, fecal shedding was reduced compared with that for untreated calves. For the probiotic-treated calves given E. coli O157:H7, the reductions in fecal shedding on days 8, 12, 14, 16, 20, 22, 28, and 30 after peroral administration were statistically significant (P < 0.05). For probiotic-treated calves given E. coli O111:NM, there were statistically significant reductions (P < 0.05) in fecal shedding on days 6, 8, 10, and 12. In contrast, there was no reduction in fecal shedding for calves administered E. coli O26:H11 and treated with the probiotic bacteria. In fact, calves in both the treated and the nontreated groups continued to shed large populations of E. coli O26:H11 throughout the 32-day trial. At necropsy, E. coli O157:H7 was isolated from five of six untreated calves and from only two of six probiotic-treated calves. E. coli O111:NM was isolated from four of six untreated calves at necropsy and from two of six probiotic-treated calves. However, E. coli O26:H11 was isolated from five of six untreated calves and from all six probiotic-treated calves. The results obtained in this study indicate that probiotic E. coli substantially reduced or eliminated fecal shedding of E. coli O157:H7 and E. coli O111:NM 8 to 30 days and 6 to 12 days after the administration of the probiotic culture, respectively, and reduced the persistence of E. coli O157:H7 in the gastrointestinal tract at necropsy (31 to 33 days after the administration of the probiotic culture). The probiotic E. coli did not reduce fecal shedding or gastrointestinal persistence of E. coli O26:H11.

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