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Serological responses of cattle inoculated with inactivated trivalent foot-and-mouth disease vaccine at the wildlife-livestock interface of the Kruger National Park, South Africa

Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) virus is economically one of the world’s most important animal pathogens, which can be responsible for losses in livestock trade, as well as frequent and highly disruptive large-scale epidemics. The control of FMD in southern Africa typically includes vaccination of cattle with a trivalent or bivalent vaccine preparation. The objective of this study was to determine the level and duration of the antibody responses conferred by the current FMD vaccination programme in cattle at the western boundary of the Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa. Two hundred and eighty-three cattle from four communal dip tanks were longitudinally sampled after vaccination using an inactivated trivalent FMD vaccine (South African Territories (SAT) 1, SAT 2 and SAT 3). Blood samples were collected fortnightly over four months and antibodies were measured using a liquid-phase blocking ELISA. Only 5%, 43%, and 16% of enrolled cattle had evidence of pre-existing antibody responses to the three SAT viruses at the beginning of the study (≥1.6 log10 titre for SAT 1–3 respectively), which was 7–12 months after the last vaccination campaign. However, 14 days after vaccination this proportion increased to between 66% and 93%, with SAT 2 having the highest proportion. Young animals (<1 year old) tended to have higher predicted baseline antibody levels that peaked by 14 days. Positive serologicalresponses were transient and by 56 days post-vaccination antibody levels begun to decline below the threshold of 1.6 log10 titre. Predicted peak antibody levels only consistently reached 2.0 log10 for SAT 2. Serological responses for SAT 2 tended to be longer, but in most cases the duration of antibody levels was short-lived. More research is necessary to determine the reasons for the limited duration of antibody responses, especially among younger cattle, in order to achieve more effective prophylactic vaccination.

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