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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 134:237-255 (2019)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03367

Erysipelas vaccination protocols in dolphins Tursiops truncatus evaluated by antibody responses over twenty continuous years

Geraldine Lacave1,*, Yi Cui2, Ana Salbany3, Carla Flanagan4, Francesco Grande5, Eric Cox2

1Marine Mammal Veterinary Services, 8310 Bruges, Belgium
2Laboratory of Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, 9820 Merelbeke, Belgium
3Medical Veterinary Services, Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
4Veterinary Department, Zoomarine Portugal, 8200 Albufeira, Portugal
5Veterinary Department, Zoomarine Italy, 00040 Torvaianica, Roma, Italy
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Erysipelas is an infection caused by Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae that affects many different species around the world, including cetaceans. The acute septicemic form can rapidly cause death in bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus. The ultimate goals of this long-term study were the development and identification of the most effective vaccination protocol against clinical erysipelas in T. truncatus using a commercially available swine vaccine, and to determine whether there is a need for a semi-annual vaccination versus an annual vaccination. The present study concentrated on the immunization of a dolphin population (7 wild-born and 22 captive-born individuals) with 2 swine vaccines, the European ‘Eurovac Ery®’ vaccine and the American ‘ER Bac Plus®’ vaccine, and immunological profile results over a 20-yr time period. The general protocol was a primo-vaccination (between 3 and 7 mo of age for calves) with or without a booster 1 mo post primo-vaccination and either annual or semi-annual vaccination thereafter. Sera were collected prior to vaccination, 2 wk post-vaccination and monthly. A dolphin-specific ELISA was developed to analyze the erysipelas-specific antibody response of vaccinated animals. The final ELISA results (n = 1362 samples from 29 animals at pre- and post-vaccination time) suggest that (1) there is a significant difference in antibody levels at the start of the vaccination between older and younger animals; (2) at least 3 vaccinations are necessary to obtain antibody levels above the levels at pre-vaccination; (3) thereafter, annual vaccinations seem sufficient to keep antibody levels above the levels at pre-vaccination; and (4) both vaccines induced similar responses. No case of erysipelas infection was observed in this population during the study.


KEY WORDS: Bottlenose dolphin · Vaccination · Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae · Erysipelas · Tursiops truncatus.


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Cite this article as: Lacave G, Cui Y, Salbany A, Flanagan C, Grande F, Cox E (2019) Erysipelas vaccination protocols in dolphins Tursiops truncatus evaluated by antibody responses over twenty continuous years. Dis Aquat Org 134:237-255. https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03367

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