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Prev Vet Med. 2011 Aug 1;101(1-2):42-50. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2011.05.011. Epub 2011 Jun 14.

A side effect of decreased fertility associated with vaccination against bluetongue virus serotype 8 in Holstein dairy cows.

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Oniris, UMR1300 Bio-agression, Epidémiologie et Analyse de Risque, La Chantrerie, BP 40706, F-44307 Nantes, France.


Inactivated virus vaccines have been widely used to control bluetongue after introduction of serotype 8 of the bluetongue virus (BTV) in northern Europe in 2006. To evaluate vaccination, quantitative knowledge of its possible side effects is needed. One current adverse reaction with inactivated vaccines is a rise in body temperature, which could reduce cow reproductive performance. The objective of this study was to quantify a possible side effect of vaccination on fertility before the implantation of the embryo of dairy cows under field conditions. The study was performed on herds that were not exposed to BTV. Fertility was assessed by return-to-service following artificial insemination (AI). Biological assumptions for a possible side effect of vaccination were conception failure and embryonic death. Associations between return-to-service rates and vaccine injections were assessed using mixed-logistic regression models and survival analysis. Two models were considered: a 3-week-return-to-service model comparing cows vaccinated between 3 days before and 16 days after AI and unvaccinated cows (assuming an effect on conception failure or early embryonic death), and a 90-day-return-to-service model comparing cows vaccinated between 3 days before and 42 days after AI and unvaccinated cows (assuming an effect on conception failure, early or late embryonic death). Only cows receiving a second vaccine injection between 2 and 7 days after AI had a significantly higher risk of 3-week-return-to-service (RR=1.19 [1.07-1.33]). This corresponds to an increase of return-to-service by 4 percentage points. A side effect of vaccination could be due to early embryonic death. The slight side effect on fertility associated with vaccination was low compared to effects of BTV-8 exposure on fertility.

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