The authors previously reported the construction of a glycoprotein E-deleted (gE-) mutant of bovine herpesvirus type 1.2a (BHV-1.2a). This mutant, 265gE-, was designed as a vaccinal strain for differential vaccines, allowing the distinction between vaccinated and naturally infected cattle. In order to determine the safety and efficacy of this candidate vaccine virus, a group of calves was inoculated with 265gE-. The virus was detected in secretions of inoculated calves to lower titres and for a shorter period than the parental virus inoculated in control calves. Twenty one days after inoculation, the calves were challenged with the wild type parental virus. Only mild signs of infection were detected on vaccinated calves, whereas non-vaccinated controls displayed intense rhinotracheitis and shed virus for longer and to higher titres than vaccinated calves. Six months after vaccination, both vaccinated and control groups were subjected to reactivation of potentially latent virus. The mutant 265gE- could not be reactivated from vaccinated calves. The clinical signs observed, following the reactivation of the parental virus, were again much milder on vaccinated than on non-vaccinated calves. Moreover, parental virus shedding was considerably reduced on vaccinated calves at reactivation. In view of its attenuation, immunogenicity and protective effect upon challenge and reactivation with a virulent BHV-1, the mutant 265gE- was shown to be suitable for use as a BHV-1 differential vaccine virus
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