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The effect of Johne's vaccination on tuberculin testing in farmed red deer (Cervus elaphus).

Author(s): Mackintosh CG, Labes RE, Griffin JF

Affiliation(s): AgResearch Invermay, PO Box 50034, Mosgiel, New Zealand. colin.mackintosh@agresearch.co.nz

Publication date & source: 2005-08, N Z Vet J., 53(4):216-22.

Publication type: Clinical Trial; Randomized Controlled Trial

AIM: To assess the degree of interference with bovine tuberculin testing in farmed red deer that vaccination of young deer with an oil-adjuvanted vs aqueous formulation of live attenuated Mycobacterium paratuberculosis Strain 316F vaccines would be likely to cause, and to compare immunological responses between vaccine formulations. METHODS: Five-month-old red deer (n = 45) were randomly allocated to three treatment groups of 15 animals, which received either no vaccine, a single 2-ml dose of an oil-adjuvanted formulation or two 2-ml doses, 6 weeks apart, of an aqueous formulation of live attenuated M. paratuberculosis Strain 316F vaccine injected subcutaneously (S/C) in the neck (Control, Oil-adjuvant Ptb, and Aqueous Ptb groups, respectively). Injection- site reactions were described and measured on Weeks 3, 6 and 9. Animals were weighed and lymphocyte transformation tests (LTT) and antibody enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) using avian, bovine and Johnin tuberculin were conducted on blood samples collected at Weeks 0, 6, 12, 15, 24, 27, 36 and 39. A bovine mid-cervical skin test (MCT) was applied at Week 12, and comparative cervical skin tests (CCTs) at Weeks 24 and 36. At Week 42, the animals were slaughtered at a commercial deer slaughter premises and subjected to rigorous meat inspection. RESULTS: Two animals were eliminated at the start of the trial due to a positive cross-reaction with bovine tuberculin in the initial LTT. Almost all animals reacted to the MCT at Week 12, with mean skin thicknesses of 3.9, 2.9 and 1.0 mm for the Oil-adjuvant Ptb, Aqueous Ptb and Control groups, respectively. When the CCT was conducted at Week 24, 2/15 Oil-adjuvant Ptb, 2/14 Aqueous Ptb and 1/14 Control animals were classified as CCT-positive to bovine tuberculin. By Week 36, all animals were CCT-negative. The Oil-adjuvant Ptb vaccination resulted in high persistent levels of antibody that reacted with bovine tuberculin, compared with negligible levels in the Aqueous Ptb group. Overall, a single dose of the Oil-adjuvant Ptb vaccine in deer stimulated a vigorous, cross-reactive immune response, evidenced by high LTT, skin-test and antibody reactions to bovine tuberculin, with both cell-mediated and humoral characteristics. By comparison, two doses of the Aqueous Ptb vaccine produced less cross-reactivity and a bias towards a cell-mediated response. The Oil-adjuvant Ptb vaccine resulted in moderate injection site lesions that were quite persistent, whereas the Aqueous Ptb vaccine resulted in smaller nodules that regressed more quickly. CONCLUSIONS: Vaccination of farmed deer with an oil-adjuvanted Johne's vaccine has the potential to cause significant interference with routine tuberculin skin testing. The cross-reactivity should decline with time and the CCT should be able to clear MCT-positives, but there is a risk of false-positives to the blood test for tuberculosis (BTB), due to high persistent levels of antibody. The CCT could be used as a primary skin test in vaccinated deer on some farms. The Aqueous Ptb caused fewer problems with skin testing and produced significantly less bovine antibody than the Oil-adjuvant Ptb, but stimulated persistent cell-mediated immune responses that may provide some protection against Johne's disease.

Page last updated: 2006-01-31

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