Open Access Research

Duration of protective immunity and antibody responses in cattle immunised against alcelaphine herpesvirus-1-induced malignant catarrhal fever

George C Russell1*, Julio Benavides2, Dawn Grant1, Helen Todd1, David Deane1, Ann Percival1, Jackie Thomson1, Maira Connelly1 and David M Haig3

Author Affiliations

1 Moredun Research Institute, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, EH26 0PZ, Scotland, UK

2 Instituto de Ganaderia de Montaña (CSIC-ULE), 24346, Grulleros (Leon), Spain

3 School of Veterinary Medicine and Science, Nottingham University, Sutton Bonington, LE12 5RD, United Kingdom

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Veterinary Research 2012, 43:51  doi:10.1186/1297-9716-43-51

Published: 11 June 2012

Abstract

Protection of cattle from alcelaphine herpesvirus-1 (AlHV-1)-induced malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) has been described previously, using an attenuated virus vaccine in an unlicensed adjuvant. The vaccine was hypothesised to induce a protective barrier of virus-neutralising antibody in the oro-nasal region, supported by the observation of high titre neutralising antibodies in nasal secretions of protected animals. Here we describe further analysis of this vaccine strategy, studying the effectiveness of the vaccine formulated with a licensed adjuvant; the duration of immunity induced; and the virus-specific antibody responses in plasma and nasal secretions. The results presented here show that the attenuated AlHV-1 vaccine in a licensed adjuvant protected cattle from fatal intranasal challenge with pathogenic AlHV-1 at three or six months. In addition, animals protected from MCF had significantly higher initial anti-viral antibody titres than animals that succumbed to disease; and these antibody titres remained relatively stable after challenge, while titres in vaccinated animals with MCF increased significantly prior to the onset of clinical disease. These data support the view that a mucosal barrier of neutralising antibody blocks infection of vaccinated animals and suggests that the magnitude of the initial response may correlate with long-term protection. Interestingly, the high titre virus-neutralising antibody responses seen in animals that succumbed to MCF after vaccination were not protective.