Bovine leucosis virus contamination of a vaccine produced in vivo against bovine babesiosis and anaplasmosis



SUMMARY: Contamination of a batch of tick fever (babesiosis and anaplasmosis) vaccine with bovine leucosis virus (BLV) was detected when a herd, in the final stages of an enzootic bovine leucosis (EBL) accreditation program, developed a large number of seropositive cattle following use of tick fever vaccine. Investigations incriminated a single calf used to produce Anaplasma centrale vaccine from which 13,959 doses were distributed. The failure of this calf to give a positive agar gel immunodiffusion (AGID) test before use was not fully explained. A total of 22,627 cattle from 111 herds receiving contaminated vaccine was tested to validate claims for compensation. Results showed infection rates of 62% and 51.8% in vaccinated dairy and beef cattle, respectively, compared with 6.1% and 1.5% in non-vaccinated cattle in the same herds. The results also indicated that infection did not spread from vaccinated to non-vaccinated in-contact cattle. Heavy reliance is now placed on purchase of calves for vaccine production from EBL accredited-free herds and on transmission tests from the calves to sheep to prevent a recurrence of contamination. The need for a BLV antigen detection test, with the sensitivity of the sheep transmission test but simpler and faster to perform, is evident.