A randomised controlled trial to assess the efficacy of Silirum vaccine in control of paratuberculosis in young farmed deer was carried out in 2008–2009 in six New Zealand herds with a history of clinical disease. Vaccination with Silirum was carried out in four-month-old deer, and vaccinates (n=1671) and controls (n=1664) were weighed at vaccination and at 8 and 12 months old, when faecal samples were collected from 125 vaccinates and 123 controls on five farms. Deer were slaughtered between 11 and 20 months of age, and the incidence of gross visceral lymph node (VLN) pathology typical of paratuberculosis in deer, that is, enlarged and/or granulomatous VLN, was recorded. Clinical disease was confirmed in 18 controls and seven vaccinates, representing a vaccine efficacy estimate of 60 per cent (95% CI 3 per cent to 83 per cent, P=0.04). Forty-seven percent (95% CI 38 per cent to 56 per cent) of faecal samples from vaccinates and 55 per cent (95% CI 46 per cent to 64 per cent) from controls were Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis positive (P=0.5). Average daily liveweight gain did not differ between the cohorts. At slaughter, 1.4 per cent of vaccinates and 4.5 per cent of controls had VLN pathology, RR=0.32 (95% CI 0.19 to 0.54, P<0.001). These data indicate that vaccination with Silirum may be useful as an aid to control losses associated with clinical paratuberculosis in young deer.
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