DAO prepress abstract  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/dao03367

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

Geraldine Lacave*, Yi Cui, Ana Salbany, Carla Flanagan, Francesco Grande, Eric Cox

*Email: geraldine.lacave@icloud.com

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 goal of this long-term study was the development and identification of the most effective vaccination protocol against clinical erysipelas in Tursiops truncatus using a commercially available swine vaccine and mainly to determine whether there is a need for a bi-yearly vaccination versus a yearly vaccination. The present study concentrated on the immunization of a dolphin population (7 wild-born and 22 captive-born) with two swine vaccines, the European “Eurovac Ery®” vaccine and the American “Er Bac® Plus” vaccine, and immunological profile results over a 20-year time-lapse. The general protocol was a primo-vaccination (between 3-7 mo of age for calves) with or without a booster one month post primo-vaccination and either yearly or bi-yearly 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 yearly 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.