Bison (Bison bison) and elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA), USA, are infected with Brucella abortus, the causative agent of bovine brucellosis, and they serve as a wildlife reservoir for the disease. Bovine brucellosis recently has been transmitted from infected elk to cattle in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho and has resulted in their loss of brucellosis-free status. An efficacious Brucella vaccine with a delivery system suitable for wildlife would be a valuable tool in a disease prevention and control program. We evaluated Strain 19 (S19) in a sustained release vehicle consisting of alginate microspheres containing live vaccine. In a challenge study using red deer (Cervus elaphus elaphus) as a model for elk, alginate, a naturally occurring polymer combined with a protein of Fasciola hepatica vitelline protein B was used to microencapsulate S19. Red deer were orally or subcutaneously immunized with 1.5×1010 colony-forming units (CFUs) using microencapsulated S19. Humoral and cellular profiles were analyzed bimonthly throughout the study. The vaccinated red deer and nonvaccinated controls were challenged 1 yr postimmunization conjunctivally with 1×109 CFUs of B. abortus strain 2308. Red deer vaccinated with oral microencapsulated S19 had a statistically significant lower bacterial tissue load compared with controls. These data indicate for the first time that protection against Brucella-challenge can be achieved by combining a commonly used vaccine with a novel oral delivery system such as alginate-vitelline protein B microencapsulation. This system is a potential improvement for efficacious Brucella-vaccine delivery to wildlife in the GYA.
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Vol. 45 • No. 4