September 20, 2001 — ALBERTA, CANADA — Canadian health officials plan to begin trials next month on a vaccine they say would significantly reduce the risk of the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.
Officials say the vaccine is designed to wipe out a significant portion of the bacteria in cattle, and subsequently will reduce the amount of E. coli shed by the animals by 1,000-fold. To date, researchers have successfully tested the vaccine on a small scale in experimental settings. Now they plan to test it on about 36,000 cattle in Alberta beginning in November.
“We are going to take this out into the field and see how well it works,” said Andy Potter, associate director of the Saskatchewan Veterinary Infectious Disease Clinic.
The Canadian government has invested more than $7.5 million in the development of the vaccine, which was created by a University of British Columbia researcher.
E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. The very young, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness. The bacteria can live in the intestine of cattle, but it can be passed to humans through water or meat.