Investigations Underway into Vaccine for Salmonella Brandenburg

4 September 1998

Work is already underway to determine what protection the existing salmonella vaccine for sheep affords against the Salmonella Brandenburg strain which is currently causing an outbreak in Southland, South Otago and Canterbury, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said.

Schering-Plough is the manufacturer of the existing salmonella vaccine (Salvexin) which has been used for many years to protect against the normal salmonella problems in sheep.

In theory, there is evidence that Salvexin may give some cross-protection against Salmonella Brandenburg, because it shares similar antigens with the vaccine strain.

There is also some anecdotal evidence that the vaccine may have provided protection on some properties when used in the face of the current Salmonella Brandenburg outbreak. However, this is anecdotal only and results on other properties have been ‘patchy’.

MAF said Schering-Plough was working right now to determine what the protection against Salmonella Brandenburg from the current vaccine might be, but this information will not be available until the end of October at the earliest.

Results from these trials and the information collected from the field by MAF and the Animal Health Laboratories will be used to make recommendations to veterinarians on how the vaccine may be used to protect sheep next season.

"If the trials are inconclusive or negative, then we really will have a problem modifying the existing vaccine in time for next season," Schering-Plough’s Veterinary Advisor, Roger Marchant said. "However, we hope the existing vaccine does prove to give protection and we can provide some realistic recommendations on developing a strategy to control Salmonella Brandenburg next season."

Meanwhile, MAF said there were signs the disease may be reaching a plateau, with reports of new cases slowing down. The disease primarily affects ewes in lamb, and is expected to disappear for this season once lambing is over in a few weeks.

MAF is also reminding farmers and others visiting farms in the outbreak area to take the following basic hygiene steps to safeguard themselves against Salmonella Brandenburg, and to minimise the risk of spread:

  • If going on to paddocks or areas where there are pregnant sheep, wear washable foot wear such as gumboots. When leaving the farm, clean and disinfect the boots.
  • Where possible, the farmer should transport visitors around the farm in the farmer’s vehicle. If this is not possible the visiting vehicle’s tyres should at least be washed before going onto another farm.
  • Rubber gloves should be worn when handling dead or sick stock Afterwards the gloves should washed in water with a disinfectant added.
  • Hands should be washed before handling food, smoking or touching the mouth in any way.
  • Clothes that have been contaminated should be soaked in a disinfectant before washing.

Media inquiries to:

Roger Marchant, Veterinary Advisor, Vet Division, Schering-Plough 04-528 1949
Debbie Gee, Director, MAF Communications 04-474 4258

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