A Brave New World is upon us. A vaccine for E. coli 0157:H7 is now available for use in cattle in the United States.

At least two other companies, including one with product already available in Canada, are also seeking approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to sell their vaccines.

The company that is first in the U.S. market with the vaccine is the Willmar, Minn.-based Epitopix. Its vaccine works by denying the E. coli the proteins it needs to absorb iron from the guts of cattle and thereby killing the bacteria.

Epitopix was given a conditional license to market the vaccine in the United States, but it must continue with both potency and efficacy studies required for a full license.

Bioniche Life Sciences Inc., which gained approval to market its vaccine in Canada last October, is also seeking USDA approval. Its vaccines goes for about $7 (US) per head. GeneThera Inc., based in Colorado, is also going through the process for U.S. approval.

In an industry where pennies often are pinched to cut per head costs of production, it remains to be seen how widely the cattle industry will adopt the new vaccines.

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