Shipping Fever Vaccine Nears Market
December 21, 1998
Cows headed to feedlots may soon be getting a protective vaccine against
shipping fever, a disease that costs U.S. and Canadian producers more than $1
Scientists developed the genetically engineered vaccine at the
Agricultural Research Service, the chief
scientific arm of the U.S. Department of
The disease is the biggest killer of beef cattle in feedlots, according to
veterinarian Robert E. Briggs at ARS' National Animal Disease Center in
Three different bacteria can cause shipping fever, which ultimately results
in pneumonia. The disease strikes cattle about a week after theyre
transported from the cow and calf operations where they were born to the
feedlots where they finish their growth. When the animals arrive at the
feedlot, they may show a variety of disease symptoms, including decreased
appetite, fever, coughing and nasal discharge.
Briggs and ARS microbiologist Fred M. Tatum developed the worlds first
genetically engineered vaccine strains for this costly disease. They
didnt use foreign DNA or a marker for antibiotic resistance to make the
vaccine. Rather, they created the live vaccine by deleting a large piece of a
gene called aroA from each of the three culprit bacteria. Without this
gene, the bacteria cannot cause infection.
Several patents have been issued jointly to ARS and the Biotechnology
Research and Development Consortium in Peoria, Ill. The consortium is a
public-private business formed to speed commercialization of government-funded
research discoveries. Schering-Plough of
Madison, N.J., is a member company that has licensed the technology to make
multivalent injectable vaccines. The firm is currently seeking approval to
market the product.
An article about the research appears in the December issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
The story is also on the World Wide Web at:
Scientific contact: Robert E. Briggs and Fred M. Tatum, ARS National
Animal Disease Center, Ames, Iowa, phone (515) 239-8639, fax (515) 239-8458,