Oral Administration of Electron-Beam Inactivated Rhodococcus equi Failed to Protect Foals against Intrabronchial Infection with Live, Virulent R. equi.
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There is currently no licensed vaccine that protects foals against Rhodococcus equi-induced pneumonia. Oral administration of live, virulent R. equi to neonatal foals has been demonstrated to protect against subsequent intrabronchial challenge with virulent R. equi. Electron beam (eBeam)-inactivated R. equi are structurally intact and have been demonstrated to be immunogenic when administered orally to neonatal foals. Thus, we investigated whether eBeam inactivated R. equi could protect foals against developing pneumonia after experimental infection with live, virulent R. equi. Foals (n = 8) were vaccinated by gavaging with eBeam-inactivated R. equi at ages 2, 7, and 14 days, or gavaged with equal volume of saline solution (n = 4), and subsequently infected intrabronchially with live, virulent R. equi at age 21 days. The proportion of vaccinated foals that developed pneumonia following challenge was similar among the vaccinated (7/8; 88%) and unvaccinated foals (3/4; 75%). This vaccination regimen did not appear to be strongly immunogenic in foals. Alternative dosing regimens or routes of administration need further investigation and may prove to be immunogenic and protective.