Manure that has undergone appropriate treatment to inactivate human pathogens can be a safe soil amendment for use in agriculture. However, incomplete treatment of manure can lead to survival of those pathogens and hence could contaminate produce in the field to which they are applied.


To understand the potential role of domesticated animal manure in contamination of leafy greens, several review articles, listed below, have attempted to summarize the prevalence of pathogens in manure.


Chalmers, R.M. and M. Giles. 2010. Zoonotic cryptosporidiosis in the UK – challenges for control.  J. Appl. Microbiol. 109:1487-1497.

Hussein, H.S. 2007. Prevalence and pathogenicity of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli in beef cattle and their products. J. Anim. Sci. 85:E63-E72.

Money, P., A.F. Kelly, S.W.J. Gould, J. Denholm-Price, E.J. Threlfall, and M.D. Fielder. 2010. Cattle, weather and water: mapping Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections in humans in England and Scotland.  Environ. Microbiol. 12:2633-2644.

Pell, A.N., 1997. Manure and microbes: Public and animal health problem?  J. Dairy Sci. 80:2673-2681. 

Rhoades, J.R., G. Duffy, K. Koutsoumanis. 2009. Prevalence and concentration of verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica and Listeria monocytogenes in the beef production chain: A review.  Food Microbiol. 26:357-376.


For more specific information on prevalence of pathogens in manure reported for individual studies, a table has been compiled. (Click on the image below to access this downloadable Word file whose information within may be sorted by the column header.)


Pathogen Prevalence in Domesticated Animal Manures Prevalence of Pathogens in Domesticated Animal Manure


Studies examining the fate of enteric pathogens in manure and composting systems are numerous. A list a review articles addressing this subject is found below. In addition, a table has been assembled listing specific studies that address the fate of pathogens in manure and composting systems along with highlights of those studies. (click on the table image below to access the Word file). As a disclaimer, many times the text included in the highlights is verbatim from the article but has not been included in quotes.


Review articles

Arthurson, V. 2008. Proper sanitization of sewage sludge: a critical issue for a sustainable society.  Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 74:5267-5275.

Dumontet, S., H. Dinel, and S.B. Baloda. 1999. Pathogen reduction in sewage sludge by composting and other biological treatments: A review.  Biol. Agric. Horticult. 16:409-430.

Ferguson, C.M., K. Charles, and D.A. Deere. 2009. Quantification of microbial sources in drinking-water catchments.  Crit. Rev. Environ. Sci. Technol. 39:1-40.

Graham, J.P. and K.E. Nachman. 2010. Managing waste from confined animal feeding operations in the United States: the need for sanitary reform.  J. Wat. Hlth. 8:646-670

Guan, T.Y. and R.A. Holley. 2003. Pathogen survival in swine manure environments and transmission of human enteric illness – A review.  J. Environ. Qual. 32:383-392.

Fremaux, B., C. Prigent-Combaret, and C. Vernozy-Rozand. Long-term survival of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli in cattle effluents and environment: An updated review.  Vet. Microbiol. 132:1-18.

Maule, A. 2000. Survival of verocytotoxigenic Escherichia coli O157 in soil, water and on surfaces.  J. Appl. Microbiol. 88:71S-78S.

Wei, J., and K.E. Kniel. 2010. Pre-harvest viral contamination of crops originating from fecal matter.  Food Environ. Virol. 2:195-206.

Withey, S., E. Cartmell, L.M. Avery, and T. Stephenson. 2005. Bacteriophages – potential for application in wastewater treatment processes.  Sci. Total Environ. 339:1-18.


Fate of Enteric Pathogens in Manure and Compost Fate of Enteric Pathogens in Manure and Compost


In addition to the review papers listed above, an issue paper published in 2009 entitled “Composting Criteria for Animal Manure” is an excellent resource that summarizes the factors affecting inactivation of enteric pathogens in composting systems containing animal manures and the limitations that currently exist that may lead to incomplete elimination of pathogens.  The brief is found at the Georgetown University Pew Charitable Trusts website: