Bite It, E.coli

Dreaded Hamburger Disease, caused by E.coli, may be a thing of the past

(RxWiki News) A new study may lead to non-medicinal methods for eradicating the invasive E.coli bacterium.

Researchers at the French National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA) and the Université de Montréal are the first to show how the bug is able to survive in a cow's intestine by scavenging specific food sources.

Outbreaks involving E.coli O157:H7, which causes Hamburger Disease (a type of food poisoning), have been associated with direct contact with the farm environment and the consumption of meat, raw milk and dairy products. Hamburger Disease, otherwise known as haemolytic uremic syndrome, affects 2 to 4 people per 100,000 internationally.

“Reduction or eradication of E.coli O157:H7 in cows will lead to a substantial decrease in food contamination and consequential human infections" said Josée Harel, co-author of the study and director of the Groupe de Recherche sur les Maladies Infectieuses du Porc at the Université de Montréal's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
 Researchers determined E.coli O157:H7 has specific genes that make it able to process ethanolamine as a source of nitrogen (allowing it to survive).

"This new-found knowledge will help us select appropriate feed or probiotics in an attempt to eliminate the food source of this contaminating bug,” said Harel. “This in turn, should limit the spread of this bug into the food chain."

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Review Date: 
November 29, 2010