Review: Footrot vaccines and vaccination

Dhungyel, O., Hunter, J., Whittington, R. 2014, ‘Footrot vaccines and vaccination’, Vaccine 32(26), pp. 3139-3146


Research on footrot in small ruminants, which is caused by Dichelobacter nodosus, has led to development of vaccines and their application for control, treatment and eradication of the disease in sheep. Footrot vaccines have evolved over decades to contain monovalent whole cell, multivalent recombinant fimbrial, and finally mono or bivalent recombinant fimbrial antigens. Initially whole cell vaccines made against the few known serogroups of D. nodosus were found to be inefficient in control of the disease in the field, which was attributed to the presence of other unidentified serogroups and also the use of inefficient adjuvants. Fimbriae or pili, which are the basis for antigenic variation, were found to be the major protective and also curative antigens but they are not cross protective between the different serogroups. Multivalent vaccines incorporating all the known serogroups have been proven to be of limited efficacy due to the phenomenon of antigenic competition. Recent studies in Nepal, Bhutan and Australia have shown that outbreak-specific vaccination which involves targeting identified serogroups with mono- or bivalent recombinant fimbrial vaccines, can be very effective in sheep and goats. Where multiple serogroups are present in a flock, antigenic competition can be overcome by sequentially targeting the serogroups with different bivalent vaccines every 3 months. A common antigen which would confer immunity to all serogroups would be the ideal immunogen but the initial studies were not successful in this area. Until universal antigen/s are available, flock specific mono or bivalent fimbrial vaccines are likely to be the most effective tool for control and eradication of footrot in sheep and goats. Future research in footrot vaccines should be focused on improving the duration of prophylaxis by incorporating new and emerging immunomodulators or adjuvants with modified delivery vehicles, discovering a common antigen and understanding the mechanisms of acquired immunity.

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