Sustained protection against tuberculosis conferred to a wildlife host by single dose oral vaccination

Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua, PO Box 40, Lincoln 7640, New Zealand. Electronic address: .
Vaccine (Impact Factor: 3.49). 12/2012; 31(6). DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.12.003
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT BACKGROUND: Vaccination of wildlife against bovine tuberculosis (TB) is being considered by several countries to reduce the transmission of Mycobacterium bovis infection to livestock. In New Zealand, where introduced brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) are the major wildlife hosts, we have previously shown that repeat applications of a lipid-encapsulated oral bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine reduce the incidence of naturally acquired TB in wild possums. Here we extend this conceptual demonstration to an operational level, assessing long-term protection against TB conferred to free-living possums by a single oral immunisation. METHODS: Possums in a non-TB area were randomly allocated to receive lipid-formulated BCG vaccine or remained unvaccinated. After initial trials to assess vaccine immunogenicity and establishment of protection within the first year post-vaccination, 13 individuals of each treatment group were relocated to a biosecurity facility and challenged (at 28 months post-vaccination) by subcutaneous injection of virulent M. bovis. RESULTS: Vaccine immunogenicity and short-term protection were confirmed at 2 months and 12 months post-vaccination, respectively. In the long-term assessment, vaccinated possums had significantly reduced bacterial counts in peripheral lymph nodes compared to controls, with 0.6-2.3 log(10)-fold reductions in M. bovis burdens. DISCUSSION: The magnitude of protective response by possums to experimental challenge at 28 months post-vaccination is known to equate to a high degree of protection against natural infection in this species. With techniques for oral bait delivery well advanced, the longevity of protection demonstrated here shows that an operable wildlife vaccine against TB is feasible.

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