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Abortion storm induced by the live C. abortus vaccine 1B strain in a vaccinated sheep flock, mimicking a natural wild-type infection

Laroucau, K., Aaziz, R., Vorimore, F., Menard, M.F., Longbottom, D., Denis, G.
Veterinary microbiology 2018 v.225 pp. 31-33
Chlamydophila abortus, enzootic diseases, ewes, fetus, flocks, genotyping, goats, industry, mutants, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, single nucleotide polymorphism, tissues, vaccination, vaccines, Europe
Chlamydia abortus is responsible for enzootic abortion (known as ovine enzootic abortion (OEA) and enzootic abortion of ewes (EAE)) in both sheep and goats and has major economic implications for the farming industry worldwide. A virulence-attenuated mutant strain of C. abortus (strain 1B) is currently commercially available as a live attenuated vaccine for immunization of sheep and goats in several European countries. Following an abortion storm in a French flock of 200 ewes that occurred two years after vaccination of 36 replacement ewes with the commercial 1B vaccine strain, the vaginal swabs of 3 vaccinated and 7 unvaccinated aborted ewes and 12 of the 13 dead fetuses were found to be positive for C. abortus by real-time PCR. Genotyping of the samples, using vaccine-specific SNP markers, identified all as positive for the vaccine-type strain. The recent vaccination of this flock with the attenuated commercial vaccine strain, the large number of abortion cases observed in ewes irrespective of vaccination status, the high C. abortus load detected in vaginal swabs or abortion tissues and the identification of specific vaccine-type markers in these samples strongly suggest that the 1B strain has been transmitted from vaccinated to naïve animals, thus mimicking a natural wild-type infection.