Source of Article:http://www.farminguk.com/news/E.-coli-O157-study-to-test-immunity-levels10206.asp
into the immunity levels of farmers and abattoir workers to E. coli O157 has
been launched in a bid to gain a better understanding of the potentially
Fifty livestock farmers and slaughterhouse employees from the North East are
wanted for the study which will test the theory that continuous and frequent
exposure to the bug makes someone more immune to infection.
Volunteers from the Grampian region - which has one of the world’s highest
rates of the infection - will be tested alongside farmers and abattoir
workers from Wales
and compared with immunity in members of the public from both areas.
It is hoped the research results will provide a better understanding of E.
coli O157 and how individuals resist the infection which strikes around 50
people in Grampian annually, out of a population of approximately half a
The study is part of a three year Rural Economy and Land Use (RELU) project:
’Reducing E. coli O157 risk in rural communities’ which brings together a
large team of researchers from across the UK including Bangor, Manchester,
and London Universities led by Professor Ken Killham,
Chair of Soil Science at the University of Aberdeen.
Gathering crucial findings from disciplines including geography, economics,
immunology and soil science, the RELU project will develop scientific models
authorities to assess and manage the risk of the bug in rural communities.
Dr Colette Jones from the School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen
said: "This particular strand of the RELU study will investigate why
livestock farmers and abattoir employees appear unaffected by E. coli O157.
"Considering 10-40% of cattle herds in the UK have E. coli O157 it is
surprising that we do not see employees from these sectors routinely struck
down by the bug. This could suggest that the more often you are exposed to
the bug, the greater your immunity or your ability to deal with the
"Our study will examine this thinking by testing for antibodies in blood
and saliva. The antibodies will indicate to us whether that person has had E.
coli O157 in the past. We will also test stool samples for E. coli O157 to
see if people have the bug in their faeces without
it actually affecting them, which would suggest. they
possess a degree of immunity.
"Over 100 farmers from the North East of Scotland and Wales will be
tested alongside 200 members of the public for comparison. We’d also be very
interested and very grateful to hear from people who’ve been infected with E.
coli O157 in the past. This will allow us to build a picture of how antibody
levels and associated immunity decrease with time."