A vaccine of rotavirus and K99 antigen from enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli was emulsified in oil adjuvant and administered intramuscularly to pregnant cows. Calves born to and reared on vaccinated dams were protected against experimental rotavirus infection at five days old when compared with calves from unvaccinated control cows. Field trials of the vaccine were carried out in 40 commercial herds, in which half the cows in each herd were selected at random for vaccination and half were left unvaccinated. In 31 herds (2641 cows) there was no significant diarrhoea problem (less than 10 per cent morbidity); these herds were excluded from further analysis. The nine remaining herds did experience a calf diarrhoea problem of greater than 10 per cent morbidity, but on four farms the disease was associated with cryptosporidiosis and on a fifth no enteropathogens were detected; these five farms (461 cows) were also excluded from further analysis. Of the remaining four herds, two beef suckler herds (105 cows) had concurrent rotavirus and cryptosporidial infections, and vaccination was associated with a decreased excretion of rotavirus but not with a decreased incidence of diarrhoea. In the other two dairy herds (68 cows) with prevaccination rotavirus problems, there was a significantly decreased incidence of diarrhoea in calves born to vaccinated cows. No natural field challenge of enterotoxigenic E coli was encountered on any of the trial farms.
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