Vaccinating cattle against E.coli O157 could cut human cases by 85%

Vaccinating cattle against the E. coli O157 bacterium could cut the number of human cases of the disease by 85%, according to scientists.

The bacteria, which cause severe gastrointestinal illness and even death in humans, are spread by consuming contaminated food and water, or by contact with livestock faeces in the environment. Cattle are the main reservoir for the bacterium.

The vaccines that are available for cattle are rarely used, but the latest study suggests the public health benefits could be significant. In Scotland, an average of 235 culture positive cases of E. coli O157 infection per year (i.e. people who had the organism in their stools) were notified to Health Protection Scotland from 2008 to 2012.

The figures provide strong support for the adoption of vaccines by the livestock industry, and work is now underway to establish the economic basis for such a programme of vaccination.

Read more at University of Glasgow