Comparison of the efficacy of inactivated combination and modified-live virus vaccines against challenge infection with neuropathogenic equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1)
Equine herpesvirus type 1 (EHV-1) is a ubiquitous alphaherpesvirus of horses which causes rhinopneumonitis, abortion and myeloencephalopathy. To test the efficacy of commercial vaccines in protection against neurological EHV-1 challenge, groups of five horses were immunized with modified-live virus or an inactivated vaccine, or received placebo. Horses were challenged by aerosol with a recent virus isolate obtained from a case of paralytic EHV-1. The duration of fever decreased significantly in the modified-live virus vaccine group. Three animals in each of the inactivate and control groups showed alterations in neurological status. When compared to the inactivated vaccine, the modified-live virus vaccine induced significantly lower virus-neutralizing antibodies over the course of the study. The modified-live virus vaccine resulted in low EHV-1-specific IgG(T)/IgGa and IgG(T)/IgGb ratios, suggesting a bias towards a cytotoxic immune response. Virus shedding from the nasopharynx was almost undetectable in the modified-live virus group, and was significantly lower when compared to that in the other groups. Normalized lymphocyte viral genome copies were similar for the three groups, although animals vaccinated with the modified-live virus vaccine were qPCR-positive on fewer days when compared to those of the other groups. Based on data from neurological signs, rectal temperatures, virus isolation from nasal swabs and immune response specificity, we concluded that protection induced by the modified-live virus vaccine is superior to that induced by the inactivated combination vaccine.