Stability of a formalin-inactivated Rift Valley fever vaccine: evaluation of a vaccination campaign for cattle in Mozambique.

Author(s): Prof. Janusz Paweska

In Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, outbreaks of Rift Valley fever (RVF) are characterized by abortions in gestating animals and high mortality rates among domestic ruminants. An immunization program using a formalin-inactivated vaccine was initiated in Mozambique in 2002 to control RVF in cattle. In this intervention, the vaccine must be transported for more than a week within the country before it can be administered to the animals, and it is practically impossible to maintain low storage temperatures during that time. Here, we evaluated the influence of transportation conditions on the efficacy of the vaccine. Sixty-three previously unvaccinated and RVF virus seronegative cattle were divided into four groups, which were given vaccine that had been stored for 1 week at 4°C (n=9, group A), at 25°C (n=8, group B), or alternating between 4 and 25°C (n=8, group C), or under the temperature conditions ordinarily occurring during transportation within Mozambique (n=38, group D). The antibody responses induced were monitored for 6-9 months and in some animals up to 21 months. Two immunizations (3 weeks apart) with the formalin-inactivated vaccine induced a long-lasting neutralizing antibody response that was still detectable up to 21 months later. The antibody titers in the animals did not differ significantly between the temperature-assigned vaccine groups A, B, and C, whereas they were significantly higher in group D. These results show that the formalin-inactivated RVF virus vaccine is stable, and, importantly, it is not adversely affected by the variation in temperature that ordinarily occurs during transport within Mozambique.

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