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Entries in Cattle Vaccine (1)

Wednesday
Feb232011

Cattle Vaccine Could Reduce E. Coli Outbreaks

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) -- The battle against E. Coli contamination in the nation's food supply has a new weapon, but consumers are not likely to see its benefit anytime soon.

Epitopix, a Minnesota-based veterinary vaccine company, recently released a vaccine that promises to help prevent cattle from carrying E. coli O157 -- a bacteria strain that, although harmless to livestock, can be deadly to humans.

Yet critical barriers stand in the way of implementation -- the need for additional research and a high price tag.

Labeled as "E. Coli Bacterial Extract," the vaccine is now available under a conditional license from the USDA, but beef industry leaders want to perform their own independent studies before moving forward with wide-scale implementation -- a common practice for newly released vaccines.

"A lot of basic research needs to occur before a technology like this is developed," said Michelle Rossman, senior director of beef safety research at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

At least 63,000 Americans acquire the foodborne pathogen every year after consuming contaminated foods such as ground beef or raw vegetables, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a result, the CDC estimates 2,138 require hospitalization and 20 will die.

A separate CDC study found that a third of all known E. Coli outbreaks from 1998-2002 were traced back to beef products, and 35 percent were from an unknown origin.

Cargill Meat Solutions, one of the nation's largest beef producers, ran a large-scale test with the vaccine last summer on more than 85,000 animals. Initial results of the study showed promise, but the findings were ultimately thrown out.

As it turned out, that summer was an exceptional year for E. Coli. The cattle carried an unusually low amount of the bacteria, even those that did not receive the vaccine. In fact, so few cattle carried the bacteria that it invalidated the entire study.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio