Less Than 10% of Bovine i E. coli /i Strains Affect Human Health

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Using software to compare genetic information in bacterial isolates from animals and people, researchers have predicted that less than 10% of Escherichia coli 0157:H7 strains are likely to have the potential to cause human disease. In this study, the researchers applied machine learning to predict the zoonotic potential of bacterial isolates from the United Kingdom and the United States. "[O]ne of the cattle isolates (apart from outbreak trace-back isolates) achieved very high human association probabilities ( 0.9), potentially indicating that those posing a serious zoonotic threat are very rare," the authors write. As a consequence, experts could use targeted control strategies, including vaccination or eradication, in cattle carrying strains of high zoonotic potential, in order to better protect human health.