Megan E. Swetnam
M.Sc. Environmental Sciences Candidate
The research I am working on is based on the lack of knowledge with regards to non-O157:H7 Shiga Toxin Producing Escherichia coli (STEC) serotypes, specifically O26, O45, O103, O111, O145, and O121, all of which cause severe human illness and are becoming major culprits in foodborne outbreaks. In order to reduce the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks, proper food safety preventative measures must be put in place. Since it is well established that cows are the main reservoir for E. coli, the best preventative measure is manure management that reduces pathogen load and its associated risk. The focus of my research will be to first test both raw and anaerobically digested manure to determine prevalence of these serotypes and then secondly test for persistence and survival rate of these serotypes in the environment after either waste treatment has been applied and incorporated in to soil. This will help to determine if anaerobic digestion of manure is an acceptable treatment to reduce the risk of foodborne illness outbreaks, due to fecal cross contamination of fresh produce.