Bioniche Life Sciences Inc., a research-based, technology-driven Canadian biopharmaceutical company, announced that its E. coli O157 cattle vaccine (Econiche®) is being shipped to Sweden for on-farm studies in some Swedish cattle herds. The Swedish National Veterinary Institute, Swedish Animal Health Service AB and the Swedish Board of Agriculture have collaborated with Bioniche to arrange for the vaccine to be granted Special Treatment Certification for this purpose.

Sweden has been testing and monitoring both cattle farm and slaughterhouse samples for verotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC) for more than three years. The results of this testing have been correlated to human illness due to VTEC. While more than one type of VTEC has been associated with human illness in Sweden, a particular sub-group of the O157 strain, clade 8, has consistently been associated with the most severe cases of human illness in that country.

"Studies to date have been focused on implementing additional hygiene procedures on VTEC O157-positive farms and making modifications to animal movement on-farm and eventually between farms," said Dr. Erik Eriksson of the Swedish National Veterinary Institute. "We expect that immunization of cattle could be very helpful as an additional intervention on some farms, and could form part of a future control program."

"The degree of interdepartmental collaboration in Sweden is very impressive," said Mr. Rick Culbert , President, Bioniche One Health. "In North America, there has been difficulty determining who should pay for an animal vaccine that provides a human health benefit. In Sweden, however, all agencies work together and keep it simple, by focusing on the effect of on-farm VTEC controls as measured by associated human illness."

Sweden has been working with on-farm control measures for VTEC that causes severe disease, and also has plans for a future control program with involvement of the veterinary organizations representing the farmers.  If the initial on-farm evaluation of Econiche® works for Swedish conditions, the Swedish collaborators expect to eventually progress to a larger, multi-farm vaccination study in certain areas where verotoxigenic O157 strains of clade 8 predominate.