Live Babesia divergens derived from gerbils were used to vaccinate cattle that had previously been treated with imidocarb dipropionate. Drug doses ranged from 1 to 2 mg/kg and animals were infected subcutaneously three to seven days later. After a further 35 days, vaccinated and control animals were given a heavy heterologous intravenous challenge. This regimen was effective for both avirulent and virulent strains in 12- to 18-month-old cattle. However, at low drug doses some animals reacted to the virulent vaccine strain and at high doses animals infected with the avirulent strain failed to seroconvert although they were still resistant to challenge. The variable infectivity of vaccine strains was a minor problem which can be overcome by strain selection and optimisation of infectivity using gerbils as experimental animals. Gerbils would also be useful as a source of parasites for the further development of in vitro cultures which could ultimately produce the vaccine.
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