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High mortality rate associated with bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) infection in Belgian white blue calves previously vaccinated with an inactivated BRSV vaccine.

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Division Immunologie Animale, Centre d'Economie Rurale, Marloie, Belgium.


In a group of 60 Belgian White Blue calves less than 8 months old still housed in barns, a bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) outbreak was revealed on the basis of a direct diagnosis (immunofluorescence and virus isolation) performed on the lungs of dead animals, and the kinetics of BRSV neutralizing antibodies. Clinical signs, macroscopical and microscopical pulmonary lesions were also compatible with a BRSV infection. This outbreak is peculiar because the 35 oldest calves (204 +/- 29 days old) had been vaccinated 3-4 months before with an inactivated BRSV vaccine and 30% of these animals had died of respiratory distress. While they experienced a mild respiratory symptomatology, no death was recorded among the 25 youngest calves (69 +/- 29 days old) which had been left unvaccinated. Another peculiarity was found at the histological level where a massive infiltration of eosinophils was demonstrated in the pulmonary tissues of the dead animals. Together these data parallel the dramatic story described 30 years ago in children previously vaccinated with a formalin-inactivated human RSV (HRSV) vaccine upon a natural HRSV challenge. This illustrates that an immunopathological phenomenon also takes place after BRSV vaccination in cattle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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