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Posts Tagged: e. coli

Scientists seek to stop E. coli at its source

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control issued an advisory about beef products from JBS Swift Beef Company that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that a sample of prepackaged Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough yielded E. coli O157:H7.

O157:H7 is a dangerous strain of E. coli. When ingested by humans, it can cause bloody diarrhea, and in some people, especially children, a potentially deadly disease called hemolytic uremic syndrome,

But there is some good news. USDA has issued a conditional license to Epitopix LLC, a Minnesota veterinary pharmaceutical company, to market Escherichia coli Bacterial Extract, a vaccine that can stop O157:H7 before it makes its way into the food chain, according to an article in today's San Francisco Chronicle. The vaccine works by preventing the bacteria, which are not harmful to cattle, from getting to the iron in a cow's intestines.

"The vaccine is potentially very exciting," the story quoted Michele Jay-Russell, a UC Davis epidemiologist. "Being able to reduce the bacteria will not only have an effect on the beef industry, but on the environment."

Jay-Russell manages a team of scientists investigating the 2006 E. coli outbreak in bagged spinach that killed three people and sickened 205 nationwide. In that incident, scientists have narrowed down the most likely cause of the contamination to either wild pigs or to a cattle herd a mile away from the spinach farm.

"That's why the vaccine is one more intervention to have," she was quoted. But, she cautioned, "It's not the end-all and be-all, and it doesn't mean everyone can relax."


Posted on Thursday, July 2, 2009 at 9:34 AM
Tags: e. coli (2)

Risk for produce contamination by wildlife is probably low

Wildlife is not a primary source of E. coli 0157:H7, according to a press release distributed last week by the California Department of Fish and Game. The release reported preliminary results of ongoing research aimed at understanding the risk of fresh produce contamination by wildlife on the Central Coast. The research was prompted by the deadly and well-publicized 2006 E. coli contamination incident in spinach.

From 2007 through 2008, the research team collected 866 wildlife samples, including 311 black-tailed deer, 184 wild pig, 73 birds, 61 rabbits, 58 tule elk, 52 ground squirrels, 51 coyotes, 24 mice, 19 raccoons, 17 opossums and 16 striped skunks. (No animals were harmed in conducting this research; the samples are scat.) Of the 866 animals sampled, 862 tested negative. The four positive samples included: one wild pig, one coyote and two tule elk.

The study's leader, USDA-Agricultural Research Service microbiologist Robert Mandrell, said scientists are less than halfway through the study. (Mandrell was identified in the news release as team leader of the Produce Microbiology and Safety Research Unit, UC Davis. University of California scientists are working with Fish and Game and ARS on the research.)

"The small number of positive animals suggests the risk for produce contamination by wildlife is probably low, and following good agricultural practices should minimize the public health risk," Mandrell was quoted in the release.

The story also appeared on

Posted on Monday, April 13, 2009 at 10:00 AM
Tags: e.coli (0)

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