The efficacy of a Pasteurella haemolytica vaccine (serotypes A1, A2, and T10) to induce humoral antibodies and alter colonization of the upper respiratory tract by related P. haemolytica spp. strains was evaluated in 10 bighorn (Ovis canadensis canadensis) and 10 domestic (Ovis aries) sheep. Sheep of each species were divided into five pairs based on age and history of respiratory disease. One sheep in each pair was vaccinated twice 2 wk apart with 2 ml of vaccine (VAC group) and the remaining animals (NV group) were injected with 2 ml of sterile saline. Mild, transient lameness was the only observed adverse effect. Blood sera from the sheep were tested for agglutinating antibodies against whole cells of A1, A2, and T10 and for leukotoxin neutralizing antibodies. Antibody titers were expressed as the reciprocal log2 of the highest reactive dilutions. Domestic sheep >1-yr-old and two bighorn sheep with a history of A1 infection had higher titers throughout the study against A1 cells than domestic sheep <1-yr-old and big-horns without a history of A1 infection. Both domestic and bighorn sheep had log2 titers of 8 to 12 against A2 cells and 6 to 12 against T10 cells during this time. Bighorn sheep in the VAC group had 2 to 32 fold titer increases for A1 cells by 2 wk post-vaccination (PV) compared to 0 to 2 fold increases in VAC domestic sheep. Two to 16 and 0 to 8 fold increases in antibodies titers to A2 and T10 cells, respectively, were detected in sera of both VAC groups. Sera of bighorn sheep with a history of respiratory disease and all domestic sheep had log2 leukotoxin neutralizing antibody titers of 4 to 14 in contrast to ≤2 in sera of bighorn sheep without a history of respiratory disease. Neutralizing antibody titers of two bighorns without a history of respiratory disease in the VAC group increased from log2 0 to 5 in one and from 0 to 9 in the other 2 wk PV. Antibody increases in these animals were no longer evident at 16 wk PV while titers of animals with histories of disease remained relatively stable. The types and numbers of Pasteurella spp. isolated from nasal and pharyngeal swabs varied throughout the study without conclusive evidence of suppression of colonization. Although the animals were not experimentally challenged to determine the efficacy of the vaccine, one VAC and one NV bighorn sheep died following introduction of an A2 P. haemolytica strain when leukotoxin neutralizing antibodies had returned to pre-vaccination levels. This vaccine appeared to be safe for use in bighorn sheep and stimulated moderate but transient increases in antibody levels which should provide some protection against naturally occurring disease. A vaccine which would induce production of high and maintained antibodies against multiple strains of P. haemolytica would be valuable for use in bighorn sheep maintained in captivity or when captured for relocation.
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Vol. 35 • No. 2