Rhodococcus equi is the most common cause of pneumonia in young foals. A vaccine is not available and the use of R equi-specific hyperimmune plasma (HIP) is common. Despite its widespread use, the efficacy of HIP in preventing disease remains controversial. The objectives of this study were (1) to evaluate the virulence associate protein A (VapA)-specific IgG and IgG subclasses in commercially available R equi HIP and (2) to evaluate serum VapA-specific IgG and IgG subclasses in foals following administration of commercial R equi HIP. Three different lots from four commercial R equi HIP were sampled. VapA-specific IgG and IgG subclasses were evaluated in all samples using an ELISA. Serum was collected from newborn foals either after commercial R equi HIP was administered (n=97) or not (n=70). Serum was also collected from each mare. Administration of HIP significantly (P<0.001) increased VapA-specific IgGs in recipient foals, however, there was a marked variation in VapA-specific IgGs in foals receiving the same product. VapA-specific IgGs were significantly different (P<0.001) between products and varied between lots, with coefficients of variation ranging from 17 to 123 per cent. These results may explain previously reported disparities in HIP efficacy.
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