Cows were vaccinated with formalin-killed Salmonella typhimurium approximately seven weeks and two weeks before parturition to investigate whether passive immunity could protect their calves against experimental S typhimurium infection. After birth the calves were left with their dam for 48 hours and then separated and fed cold, stored colostrum from their own dam for a further eight days. Oral challenge five days after birth with 10(8) S typhimurium did not result in the death of these calves even when they had absorbed little colostrum. Mortality was reduced to 22 per cent in calves which sucked from vaccinated dams and were then fed colostrum from unvaccinated cows and to 50 per cent in calves born to unvaccinated cows and later fed colostrum from vaccinated animals. Calves which sucked from a vaccinated dam and then received stored colostrum from the same cow excreted salmonellas for significantly shorter periods after challenge and were less often infected at necropsy 28 days after inoculation. Protection was not correlated with the levels of O or H agglutinating antibodies in serum, which were at a maximum 24 hours after sucking and then slowly declined. There was no evidence of an active antibody response in the serum. Measurement of the O and H response of cows after vaccination indicated that the vaccination schedule could be improved. The highest levels of agglutinating antibody were measured between two and three weeks after the first vaccination and there was only a minimal response to the second vaccination before parturition.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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