Vaccination is considered among the primary management tools for reducing brucellosis prevalence in Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) ungulates. Before their use, however, vaccine safety and efficacy must be demonstrated. Twenty-seven female bison (Bison bison) calves (approx 5 months old) were vaccinated with Brucella abortus Strain RB51 (1.5 x 1010 colony forming units [CFU], subcutaneously) as part of routine management. We assessed the persistence, pathology, shedding, and transmission associated with RB51 by serial necropsy, bacteriology, histopathology, and serology of 20 of these 27 vaccinated calves, and RB51 serology of 10 nonvaccinated, commingling adult females. With the exception of 1 calf, RB51 dot-blot titers at necropsy were <1:80. Strain RB51 was cultured from lymph nodes in 4 of 4 calves at 14 weeks postvaccination (PV), 4 of 4 calves at 18 weeks PV, 1 of 4 calves at 22 weeks PV, 3 of 4 at 26 weeks PV, and 0 of 4 calves at 30 weeks PV. No gross lesions were observed. Mild histologic changes occurred only in a few draining lymph nodes early in sampling. Adverse clinical effects were not observed in vaccinates. Swabs from nasopharynx, conjunctiva, rectum, and vagina were uniformly culture negative for RB51. Strain RB51 dot-blot assays of bison cows were negative at a 1:20 dilution at 26 weeks PV. Our results suggest that RB51 persists longer in bison calves than in domestic cattle and is systemically distributed within lymphatic tissues. However, bison apparently clear the RB51 vaccine strain without shedding, transmission, or significant adverse reactions.
Additional publication details
Biosafety of parenteral Brucella abortus RB51 vaccine in bison calves