To determine the safety of Brucella abortus strain RB51 (SRB51) vaccine in American bison (Bison bison), 31 animals from a herd with brucellosis were used. In October 1996, 10 adult bison males and seven calves were vaccinated with the standard calfhood cattle dose of 1.8 × 1010 colony forming units (CFU) of SRB51 subcutaneously while the adult females received the standard adult cattle dose of 1 × 109 CFU. Western immunoblot indicated the presence of SRB51 antibodies following vaccination. To evaluate prolonged bacterial colonization of tissues, the adult males, calves, and three adult females were divided into two groups which were slaughtered at either 13 or 16 wk post-vaccination. At necropsy, tissue samples were obtained for B. abortus culture from the liver, spleen, lymph nodes, and reproductive tract of each animal. While B. abortus field strain was cultured from one adult bull, no SRB51 was isolated from any of the animals. Seven pregnant females were monitored until parturition for signs of abortions and fetal lesions. Six cows delivered healthy calves and one delivered a dead full-term calf that was brucellae negative. Based on these results, administration of SRB51 to bison did not cause prolonged bacterial colonization of tissues in calves, adult males, or adult females. Furthermore, SRB51 did not induce abortions following vaccination in the second month of gestation.
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Vol. 34 • No. 4