Tuesday, May 1, 2007

vaccinate this

Great article in the NYTimes about different approaches to protecting farm animals and people from infection and intoxication by e. coli O157:H7. The most promising approach seems to be a vaccine made from a protein and the polysaccharide coating found on wild e. coli bacteria.

Whether food is produced by your local CSA or a humongous factory farm, it can become contaminated by e. coli. and O157:H7 is the nastiest variant of the lot. So a universally prescribed vaccine against it would be good news indeed.


The Foodist said...

She and colleagues have developed a vaccine made of the complex sugar that is on the surface of the bacteria, the very O-type polysaccharide that gives O157 its name. The sugar is linked to a protein taken from another bacterium to make it more potent in stimulating the immune system.

Dr. Szu and collaborators have tested the vaccine on adult volunteers and on children 2 to 5. The volunteers were not exposed to O157 — that would be unethical — but they developed antibodies to it. Moreover, when the bacteria were exposed in the laboratory to blood samples from vaccinated people, the microbes were killed.

Gotta love medical science! Take a sugar from the outside of a bacteria and make a vaccine from it. Amazing stuff.

I guess the question that would arise from this would be how much more can we inject into our food supplies before its too much?

Mike said...

I have to strongly disagree. Mass vaccinations for E.coli HO17 is a terrible idea! The reason we have this acid-resistant strain (most E.coli’s can’t survive the acid in our stomach, rendering them harmless) is because our beef supplies’ diet. Cows are ruminants and are supposed to eat grass, not the corn we feed them. The corn makes their stomachs very acidic and it was in this environment the mutated strain 017 was created. If we vaccinated whole herds of cows and continue to feed them corn and antibiotics, another E.coli strain will mutated and be resistant to the vaccine in short order.

The answer? Feed cows in a feedlot grass/hay for the last week of their lives. Studies have shown switching the cows to their CORRECT diet for even such a short period of time reduces the E.coli 1,000 fold. Want to really protect yourself? Do just minor searching on the net (www.eatwild.com) and buy grass fed, grass finished beef. Not only is the E.coli threat reduced by 1,000 fold, it tastes 1,000 times better, too.

Tags said...

How do we know if all that recalled pet food isn't being turned into highly profitable feed for livestock? Is there any guaranteed safeguards in place? Even then, there are those who would just circumvent them anyway. Is there any way to test meat to see if the pet food toxins are showing up in meat?