Vaccinating cattle against the E. coli O157 bacterium could cut the number of human cases of the disease by 85%, according to scientists.
The study, published in the online journal PNAS, used veterinary, human and molecular data to examine the risks of E. coli O157 transmission from cattle to humans, and to estimate the impact of vaccinating cattle.
Lead author, Dr Louise Matthews, Senior Research Fellow in the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, said: “E. coli O157 is a serious gastrointestinal illness. The economic impact is also serious – for instance studies in the US suggest that healthcare, lost productivity and food product recalls due to E. coli O157 can cost hundreds of millions of dollars each year.”Treating cattle in order to reduce the number of human cases certainly makes sense from a human health perspective and, while more work is needed to calculate the cost of a vaccination programme, the public health justification must be taken seriously.