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Vaccine. 2003 Dec 8;22(1):70-6.

Oral vaccination with Mycobacterium bovis BCG in a lipid formulation induces resistance to pulmonary tuberculosis in brushtail possums.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand.


A method was developed for formulating Mycobacterium bovis bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) for oral vaccination against tuberculosis. Selected lipid-based formulations of BCG were tested in the brushtail possum for their ability to elicit immune responses and protection against bovine tuberculosis. Formulation of BCG in lipid matrices maintained bacteria in a dormant but viable state. Oral delivery of 2 x 10(8) colony forming units of formulated BCG to possums induced strong lymphocyte proliferation responses to bovine purified protein derivative (PPD) in peripheral blood lymphocytes. Oral vaccination of possums also reduced the severity of disease following aerosol challenge with virulent M. bovis compared with animals vaccinated with non-formulated BCG. In a second experiment, levels of protection with lipid-formulated oral BCG were similar to those seen with subcutaneous BCG vaccination. Our data shows that formulated oral BCG is an efficient means of inducing protection against bovine tuberculosis in possums and should be a practical means of vaccinating wildlife against tuberculosis.

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