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Kansas State Finds Cattle Vaccine Works as Pre-Harvest E. coli Strategy

Vaccinating cattle for E. coli O157:H7 has, in theory, long been a favorite pre-harvest intervention strategy for consumers, and now Kansas State University has found it appears to work.

K State has found a commercial vaccine for cattle can effectively reduce levels of E. coli by more than 50 percent by using two doses rather than the manufacturer’s recommended three doses.

The fact that it can be effect at a lower dose means it will cost the beef industry less to put it to work.

While K State did not say so in their press release, it appears as though the target of their research most certainly  is the “E coli Bacterial Extract Vaccine with SRP® Technology.”  Madison, NJ-based Pfizer Animal Health acquired worldwide rights to the product, which was developed and is manufactured by Wilmar, MN-based Epitopix LLC.

The vaccine first created a buzz in 2010 when giant Cargill Meat Solutions tested it on 85,000 head of cattle in Fort Morgan CO. It was only a couple months later than Pfizer bought the vaccine. Ever since, the cattle industry has been waiting for the independent research that K State has provided.

Pfizer says their Extract Vaccine is the “first and only” USDA approved vaccine for reducing E. coli pathogens in the intestines of cattle and from shedding into the environment.

David Renter, associate professor of epidemiology, is the principal investigator on a project that researched the effectiveness of products used to prevent the shedding of E. coli O157:H7 in cattle.

The research appears in a recent online version of the journal Vaccine and helps improve current preventative methods for addressing food safety concerns.

While E. coli O157:H7 does not affect cattle, it causes a potentially deadly foodborne disease in humans.

In the last 20 years, the beef industry has used numerous pre- and post-harvest (slaughter) interventions to reduce the presence of E. coli. Some are more successful than others.

“We wanted to test how well these products work to control E. coli O157:H7 in a commercial feedlot with a large population of cattle that were fed in the summer and may be expected to have a high level of E. coli O157:H7,” Renter said.

Other involved K State researchers include T.G. Nagaraja, university distinguished professor of microbiology; Nora Bello, assistant professor of statistics; Charley Cull, doctoral student in pathobiology, and Zachary Paddock, doctoral student in pathobiology.

Abram Babcock, an August 2010 Kansas State University doctoral graduate, was also involved in the research.

Using a commercial feedlot setting, the researchers studied more than 17,000 cattle during an 85-day period. They studied two products: a vaccine and a low-dose direct-fed microbial.

“What’s unique about this study is the number of animals we used, the research setting and that we used commercial products in the way that any cattle producer could use them,” Renter said. “We didn’t want it to be any different than the way somebody would use the products in a commercial feedlot.”

The researchers found that the vaccine reduced the number of cattle that were shedding E. coli O157:H7 in feces by more than 50 percent. E. coli shedding was reduced by more than 75 percent among cattle that were high shedders of E. coli. While the vaccine label suggests that it is given in three doses, the researchers found that two doses of the vaccine significantly reduced E. coli.

“Showing that level of efficacy with two doses is really important because a shift to two doses from three could significantly cut costs for the beef industry,” Renter said. “In terms of logistics, it can be difficult for commercial feedlot production systems to vaccinate animals three times. Both of these benefits help when considering how the vaccine can be adopted and implemented in the industry.”

The researchers also discovered that the low-dose direct-fed microbial product did not work as well as the vaccine. Renter said while the study used a lower dose of the direct-fed microbial and could find no evidence that it reduced E. coli shredding, it is possible that the direct-fed microbial product is more effective at a higher dose.

“This vaccine is an option for reducing E. coli,” Renter said. “We have shown that this vaccine works and that it is a tool that could be adopted in the industry.”

A $1 million USDA grant helped support the three-year project.

© Food Safety News
  • Theresa Kentner

    If successful, hopefully the industry will be willing to put *this* on their label. (unlike GMOs)

  • Minkpuppy

    Very promising research! I’m attempting to gather articles/research addressing interventions in live cattle that show promise in reducing E. coli shedding for a report I’m working on. This is definitely going on the list.

  • We would like to know more about the vaccine for E. coli O157:H7. One thing is what is the chemical make-up of it how will affect the quality of the meat in which its being used?
    What are the side effects of human consumption? Short term and long term?

  • Minkpuppy

    Classy,
    I understand your concerns but I think it’s highly unlikely that the vaccine is going to adversely affect meat quality except to make it safer. Vaccines typically have no effect on the chemical composition of the meat-I’ve been in meat industry for years and have never heard of a vaccine that changes meat characteristics. It doesn’t happen as far as I know. A meat science researcher can probably answer that better than me.
    The greatest impact on human health should be obvious–fewer E. coli 0157:H7 outbreaks because there is less contaminated meat out there. Who doesn’t want that?
    Vaccines are intended to boost the immune system of the animal it’s given to and are specifically designed for that animal, cattle in this case. The only way I can see that this will negatively impact human health is through administering the vaccine to humans. The research isn’t proposing to do that. It likely won’t work anyway because the human body/immune system is very different than a cow’s.
    A classic example of this is the military’s attempt to give livestock anthrax vaccine to soldiers. Naturally, the soldiers had horrible side effects with questionable benefit because the vaccine they were given was not meant for people. They had every right to refuse the vaccine given the evidence presented.
    This shouldn’t be a concern with this vaccine. The research is focused on cattle, not humans. Maybe someday, a human vaccine will be developed but that’s a long way down the road right now and it’s going to have to be based on human physiology. There’s some promising work on a human Salmonella vaccine but our understanding of how E. coli 0157 works in humans is still a work in progress.
    .

  • husna aijaz
  • does this give much information of how many doses does cattle get(vactionations)?  i am wanting to know because i need to know how much to give for each sickness

  • does  this article tell how much doses i need to give to cattle  beacuse i am trying to find out with all the dieseses  that can also be vacinated  thank you so much i hope this  make since