Field Trial Vaccination against Cowpox in Two Alpaca Herds
In Europe, cowpox virus (CPXV) infection in South American camelids occurs as a so-called spill-over infection. Although infected animals generally have a mild form of the disease and survive, cases of fatal generalised CPXV infection have also been described. Prevention by prophylactic vaccination is the only way to protect animals from disease. In the present study, modified vaccinia virus Ankara (MVA) vaccine, which has been successfully used in many animal species, was used in a prime-boost vaccination regimen in two alpaca herds with a history of CPXV infection. The focus of the study was the prevention of further clinical cases, and to determine the safety and immunogenicity of the MVA vaccine in alpacas. The MVA vaccine was well tolerated and safe in the 94 animals vaccinated. An indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) using MVA as an antigen showed that the seroprevalence of antibody after booster vaccination was 81.3% in herd I and 91.7% in herd II. Detectable antibody titres declined to 15.6% in herd I and 45.8% in herd II over a 12-month period after booster vaccination. Animals could be divided into four groups based on individual antibody titres determined over one year: Group 1 consisted of 19.3% of animals that were seropositive until the end of the trial period; Group 2 consisted of 58.0% of animals that were seropositive after booster vaccination, but seronegative one year later; Group 3 consisted of 14.7% of animals that were not seropositive at any time point; and Group 4 consisted of 7.9% of animals that were seropositive after initial immunisation, seronegative six months later, but seropositive or intermediate in IFA one year after immunisation, likely because of natural exposure. In new-born crias born to MVA-vaccinated mares, specific maternal antibodies were detected in 50.0% of animals up to 14 weeks of age. Our results confirm that MVA vaccination is a feasible tool for the prevention of CPXV disease in alpacas. Long-term studies are needed to verify future vaccination regimen in CPXV affected herds.