Testing Begins for E. Coli Vaccine

The cattle industry is starting a large-scale test of an E. Coli vaccine, which they apparently know in advance is not anywhere close to 100 percent effective. But it’s looking like the vaccine could dramatically reduce the number of cows carrying E. Coli 0157, which would in turn keep people out of hospitals and morgues.

But even if the vaccine proves highly effective, there’s concern over who would end up paying for it. The three doses that would be required cost something like $3 each, and a feedlot’s profit per animal can be under $35. In a business that’s all about shaving costs and cutting corners—one that goes so far as to feed chicken shit [PDF] to cattle in an effort to save cash—do we really expect feedlots to shoulder that significant expense?

This New York Times piece offers some of the best background reporting on E. Coli I’ve seen in years. Link.