Presence of antibodies against Bluetongue virus (BTV) in sheep 5 to 7.5 years after vaccination with inactivated BTV-8 vaccines
Thirty-six female sheep, previously vaccinated against Bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) using inactivated vaccines, were included in this field study. In Germany, vaccination was compulsory in 2008 and 2009, voluntary in 2010 and early 2011, and later, was prohibited in 2011. Due to their age, eighteen sheep had been vaccinated for two or more consecutive years, while a further eighteen animals had only been vaccinated once or not at all. The sheep were blood sampled five (n = 31) to 7.5 years (n = 5) after their last vaccination. All serum samples (n = 36) were tested for BTV group-specific antibodies by an ELISA (IDScreen® Bluetongue Competition assay, ID Vet). In five of the animals, the BTV-8 serotype-specific antibody titers were measured by serum neutralization (SN). The majority of sheep that were vaccinated annually for two or more years showed a positive ELISA (14/18 sheep) and a SN (two of two sheep) result 5 years after their last vaccination. Most of the sheep vaccinated fewer than twice showed a negative ELISA result 5 to 7.5 years after their last vaccination (13/18 animals). The three animals in this group tested by SN showed one negative and two positive results. This short communication is the first to describe the presence of BTV antibodies in sheep 5 to 7.5 years after vaccination with inactivated BTV-8 vaccines.