Canadian E coli vaccine for cattle gets preliminary nod

CANADA - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently gave preliminary approval for field use of the world's first vaccine to reduce Escherichia coli O157:H7 in cattle and thereby help keep it out of food.
calendar icon 3 January 2007
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Bioniche Life Sciences, Belleville, Ont., reported in a Dec 22 news release that it received CFIA approval to distribute its E coli vaccine to Canadian veterinarians. The approval, called a permit to release veterinary biologics, is similar to a conditional license in the United States.

To receive full licensure, the company must provide additional data confirming reductions in E coli O157 shedding in vaccinated animals, the company said.

"Bioniche believes that this vaccine will be an important factor in helping to reduce the prevalence of this toxic bacterium, first implicated in meat contamination and now being increasingly identified as a contaminant of produce," said Graeme McRae, president and chief executive office of Bioniche, in the press release.

Several outbreaks of E coli O157:H7 have been linked to leafy greens in recent years, including two high-profile events in 2006—one that involved fresh spinach and another traced to lettuce served at Taco Bell restaurants in the eastern United States. In the spinach outbreak, authorities expressed concern about the proximity of cattle pastures to growing areas.

In 1993, a nationwide E coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to hamburger served at Jack in the Box restaurants led to changes in how cattle were slaughtered and processed.

The O157:H7 E coli strain doesn't sicken cattle, but in humans it produces a toxin that causes diarrhea, often bloody, and abdominal cramps, but typically no fever. The illness usually resolves in 5 to 10 days but can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal form of kidney failure, in 2% to 7% of patients.

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