Vaccines Against Bacterial Pathogens Challenge and Elude Researchers (excerpt)

By Martin Berman-Gorvine
Food Protection Report, July-August 1998
Genetic engineering and other technologies are providing researchers with the tools to develop vaccines against various illnesses, but can we vaccinate away our problems with foodborne pathogens? Human vaccines are available for hepatitis A, but experts say several obstacles block the path toward development of human and animal vaccines against scourges like Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7 and Campylobacter.
Dr. Nelson Cox, a research microbiologist with the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, expressed skepticism about the practicality of vaccinating broiler chickens against such pathogens as Salmonella Enteritidis. "Their immune systems are not fully competent [to deal with a vaccine] until they are 10 days old, and they are covered with Salmonella by then - it gets on their skin and feathers," he told FPR. "You'd have to stimulate the immune system in the egg, before they hatch."
Another issue is cost. German and Finnish researchers are working on chicken vaccines against Salmonella, Cox noted, but he said the cost is too high: "Twenty-five cents a bird, when broiler chickens are worth only 15 cents." However, [the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Dr. Rick] Meinersmann said the cost of vaccines could go as low as half a cent per bird.
Original article copyright © 1998, Pike & Fischer, Inc.
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