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Inappropriate daily use of antimicrobial drugs for the treatment of intestinal diseases is associated with an increased risk of antibiotic resistance. Thus, the establishment of new forms of therapy is still needed. Our objective was to examine the effect of the nonpathogenic Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917 on the prophylaxis and treatment of neonatal calf diarrhea in a hypothesis-generating study (study I) and a subsequent confirmatory clinical study (study II) under field conditions. Both trials were designed as consecutive, placebo-controlled, single-blind comparisons of 2 groups of animals. Immediately after birth, healthy calves were assigned to either the E. coli Nissle 1917 or the placebo group. The study medication was administered orally 1/d before the first feeding. The treatment was continued for the first 10 to 12 d of life. For each animal, the studies ended on d 20 to 22 of life. In both trials, the number of calves developing diarrhea was defined as the primary target criterion. A total of 335 newborn calves were included in the studies (study I: n = 172; study II: n = 163). Study I showed that the incidence of diarrhea was 65.2% under placebo and 26.5% under E. coli Nissle 1917. In study II, the corresponding figures were 63.0% under placebo and 12.2% under E. coli Nissle 1917. It can be concluded that the administration of viable E. coli bacteria, strain Nissle 1917, has a clear beneficial effect on the prophylaxis and treatment of neonatal calf diarrhea.


R von Buenau, L Jaekel, E Schubotz, S Schwarz, T Stroff, M Krueger. Escherichia coli strain Nissle 1917: significant reduction of neonatal calf diarrhea. Journal of dairy science. 2005 Jan;88(1):317-23

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PMID: 15591395

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