Efficacy of marker vaccine candidate CP7_E2alf in piglets with maternally derived C-strain antibodies
Marker vaccines offer the possibility to differentiate classical swine fever (CSF) infected from CSF vaccinated animals based on serology and their implementation will ensure free trade with pigs. Therefore, new generations of promising marker vaccines have been developed, among them the chimeric vaccine CP7 E2alf. However, in populations previously vaccinated with live attenuated vaccines like the C-strain, passive immunity through maternal antibodies can interfere with efficacy of CP7 E2alf vaccination. Therefore, the efficacy of CP7 E2alf was examined in piglets from sows vaccinated once intramuscularly with C-strain vaccine 4 weeks before farrowing. Thus, these piglets were vaccinated intramuscularly with CP7 E2alf at the age of 5 or 8 weeks. Subsequently, the piglets and their mock-vaccinated littermate controls were challenged 2 weeks post vaccination with highly virulent Classical swine fever virus (CSFV) strain "Koslov". CP7 E2alf provided clinical protection upon challenge as no severe clinical signs or mortality was observed in the vaccinated piglets. Post mortem examination revealed pathological changes associated to CSFV only in the mock-vaccinated piglets. No infectious CSFV could be isolated from the tonsils of the vaccinated piglets. Two weeks after vaccination at the time of challenge, the vaccinated piglets only, had an increase in the ELISA antibody titer. Interestingly, the maternally derived immunity in the mock-vaccinated control piglets seems to neutralize the challenge virus. Thus, the previously observed 100% mortality in naïve (negative for antibodies to CSFV) piglets infected with CSFV Koslov was reduced in the control piglets of this study to 30% for challenge at the age of 7 weeks and 50% at the age of 10 weeks, respectively. In conclusion, CP7 E2alf proved to be effective in preventing mortality, severe clinical signs and pathological lesions in 5 or 8 weeks old piglets positive for maternal antibodies derived from sows vaccinated intramuscularly 4 weeks before farrowing with one dose of C-strain vaccine.