Modulation of inter-vaccination interval to avoid antigenic competition

Serogroup-specific vaccination has been used successfully to control and eliminate virulent footrot in Australian sheep flocks. In flocks with three or more serogroups, sequential bi-valent vaccines are used to eliminate two serogroups at a time. However, an inter-vaccination interval is necessary to avoid antigenic competion, which can reduce vaccine efficacy. Immunological trials demonstrated that an inter-vaccination interval of three months is sufficient to avoid antigenic competition.

Dhungyel, O. P., Whittington, R. J. 2010, ‘Modulation of inter-vaccination interval to avoid antigenic competition in multivalent footrot (Dichelobacter nodosus) vaccines in sheep’, Vaccine 28(2), pp. 470-473


Virulent footrot is a significant disease of sheep in most sheep farming countries; a strain/serogroup of the anaerobic bacterium Dichelobacter nodosus is the essential transmitting agent. Commercial multivalent footrot vaccines containing nine fimbrial serogroups (A through I) of D. nodosus produce relatively low and short term antibody responses due to antigenic competition, in contrast to higher and longer responses provided by monovalent or bivalent vaccines. The latter were important components of successful eradication programs for endemic footrot caused by either one or two serogroups of D. nodosus in Nepal, Bhutan, and several flocks in Australia. However, the presence of up to six serogroups in some Australian flocks and the use of an annual bivalent vaccination regime to progressively eradicate serogroups would require a long term program. In this study we report the results of a sequential vaccination trial testing different time intervals between different bivalent vaccinations. Intervals of 12, 9, 6, 3 and 0 months were tested. The 1st vaccination was with recombinant fimbrial antigens for serogroups A and B while the 2nd vaccination was with D and E. There were no significant differences between the antibody responses for time intervals of 3, 6, 9 and 12 months whereas there was a reduced response when sheep were vaccinated with two bivalent vaccines (four antigens) concurrently, indicating antigenic competition. Therefore an inter-vaccination interval of 3 months can be applied between two different bivalent vaccines without detrimental impact on the humoral immune responses to the various fimbrial antigens of D. nodosus. These results could have wider applications in vaccination against diseases caused by multivalent or multistrain microbes.

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