Two commercial live virus infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) vaccines for intranasal administration and an inactivated polyvalent calf pneumonia vaccine were compared for safety and efficacy in calves against experimental IBR infections. All three products were clinically safe for use in young calves; a mild, transient, febrile response was induced by one of the live vaccines. Vaccinal virus was recovered for up to 16 days after vaccination from nasal secretions of all calves given live vaccine. Both live vaccines stimulated a serum neutralising antibody response, but the inactivated vaccine failed to elicit any serological response. Following intranasal challenge four months after the first dose of vaccine, all live virus vaccinates remained systemically healthy. A slight nasal discharge and a few rapidly healing ulcers of the nasal mucosa were the only abnormalities observed. Both the group given the inactivated vaccine and the unvaccinated controls developed clinical IBR with pyrexia, ocular and nasal discharges, severe ulceration of the nasal mucosa and tracheitis and tachypnoea to varying degrees of severity. Parenteral administration of dexamethasone six months after challenge induced reactivation of virus shedding followed by a rise in humoral antibody titre irrespective of the original vaccination history.
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