This study was conducted to determine whether young calves with maternal antibodies against bovine herpesvirus type 1 (BHV-1) but without antibodies against glycoprotein E (gE) can produce an active antibody response to gE after a BHV-1 infection. Five calves received at birth colostrum from gE-seronegative cows which had been vaccinated two or three times with an inactivated BHV-1, gE-deleted marker vaccine. After inoculation with a wild-type virulent strain of BHV-1, all the passively immunised gE-negative calves shed virus in large amounts in their nasal secretions. All the calves seroconverted to gE within two to four weeks after inoculation and then had high levels of gE antibodies for at least four months. The development of an active cell-mediated immune response was also detected by in vitro BHV-1-specific interferon-gamma assays. All the calves were latently infected, because one of them re-excreted the virus spontaneously and the other four did so after being treated with dexamethasone. The results showed that under the conditions of this work the gE-negative marker could also distinguish between passively immunised and latently infected calves.
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