The two North American vaccines developed since 2010 to reduce the dangerous E. coli in cattle by as much as 98 percent are still in limited demand in the marketplace. But that has not stopped a Scottish group from developing a third vaccine for the same purpose.

higlandcattle_406x250The Moredun and Roslin Institutes, along with Scotland’s Rural College, announced they have developed a vaccine that controls E. coli O157:H7 in cattle under experimental conditions. The group is now looking for commercial partners to help see how the vaccine does in field trials where multiple strains of E. coli are present.

“There are no perceived issues with the bacteria causing any disease in the cattle populations, so it always comes down to who should pay to vaccinate cattle against a disease which doesn’t causthem any illnesses but can potentially cause illnesses in humans,” Moredun’s lead scientist Tom McNeilly said in the research report.

Vaccines for E. coli O157:H7 that have been on the market in North America have experienced slow sales, so the Scottish group is looking at combing its vaccine with another existing vaccine that is demand by cattlemen. That could give them a leg-up in the market.

There is also a study underway to determine why Scotland has a higher incidence of E. coli O157:H7 than does England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Food Standards Scotland estimates about 20 percent of Scottish cattle herds have the E. coli bacteria that is dangerous to humans.

People are at risk when they come into contact with cattle feces or indirect contact with contaminated water, food or the environment. E. coli O157:H7 can cause everything from diarrhea to renal failure from the toxins produced by the bacteria.

Beef producers in the United States have been slow to adopt vaccines because they have not proven to be as cost-effective as other interventions that have been deployed in the industry’s largely successful war on E. coli O157. In 2015, Kansas State University researchers found one of the vaccines was highly effective, but not likely to be adopted by producers because of costs.

Kansas State put the per head cost at $8.35 to $15 in an era when producers are not interested in adding to production costs. The study suggested premium beef might might carry the costs of vaccines over time.

The Moredun Research Institute is a scientific research institution located in  the Pentlands Science Park in the Bush Estate area of Midlothian, Scotland.   Moredun conducts research into diseases of farm livestock and the promotion of animal health and welfare. It employs more than 200 veterinarians, scientists and support staff, with funding primarily from the Agriculture, Food and Rural Communities Directorate of the Scottish Government.

The Roslin Institute is a National Institute of Bioscience which receives Institute Strategic Program Grant funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. It is a unit of the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine of the University of Edinburgh.

Scotland’s Rural College is a higher education institution that combines education, consulting and research in Scotland. It focuses on agriculture. It was founded in October 2012 through a merger of Barony College, Elmwood College, Oatridge College and the Scottish Agricultural College.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)