Assessing the protective dose of a candidate DIVA vaccine against classical swine fever
Classical swine fever is a highly contagious and deadly disease in swine. The disease can be controlled effectively by vaccination with an attenuated virus known as the "Chinese" (C)-strain. A single vaccination with the C-strain provides complete protection against highly virulent isolates within days after vaccination, making it one of the most efficacious veterinary vaccines ever developed. A disadvantage of the C-strain is that vaccinated animals cannot be serologically differentiated from animals that are infected with wild-type Classical swine fever virus. Previously, a C-strain-based vaccine with a stable deletion in the E2 structural glycoprotein was developed, which allows for differentiation between infected and vaccinated animals (DIVA). The resulting vaccine, which we named C-DIVA, is compatible with a commercial E2 ELISA, modified to render it suitable as a DIVA test. In the present work, three groups of eight piglets were vaccinated with escalating doses of the C-DIVA vaccine and challenged two weeks after vaccination. One group of four unvaccinated piglets served as controls. Piglets were monitored for clinical signs until three weeks after challenge and blood samples were collected to monitor viremia, leukocyte and thrombocyte levels, and antibody responses. The presence of challenge virus RNA in oropharyngeal swabs was investigated to first gain insight into the potential of C-DIVA to prevent shedding. The results demonstrate that a single vaccination with 70 infectious virus particles of C-DIVA protects pigs from the highly virulent Brescia strain.