Evaluation of the humoral immune response and fecal shedding in weanling foals following oral and intra-rectal administration of an avirulent live vaccine of Lawsonia intracellularis

Nicola Pusterla, Hugo Hilton, Suphot Wattanaphansak, Jessica R. Collier, Samantha M. Mapes, Robert M. Stenbom, Connie Gebhart

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22 Scopus citations


Equine proliferative enteropathy (EPE) caused by Lawsonia intracellularis has recently been recognized as an emerging disease in foals. Whilst the clinical entity, diagnostic evaluation and treatment of affected foals have been well established and described, preventive measures for EPE have remained largely unaddressed. The objectives of this study were to investigate the humoral immune response and onset and duration of fecal shedding in foals after oral and intra-rectal administration of a modified-live vaccine of L. intracellularis. Foals were vaccinated twice, 3 weeks apart, via oral drenching after pre-medication with a proton-pump inhibitor (omeprazole; group 1), intra-rectally (group 2) or orally without any pre-medication (group 3). The health status of the foals was monitored daily, with feces and serum collected at regular intervals for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and serology. All foals remained healthy and no adverse vaccine reactions were observed. Fecal shedding lasted from 1 to 12 days and was mainly detected in foals receiving the intra-rectal vaccine 11-15 days following the first vaccine administration. Serological responses were measured in the majority of the vaccinated foals. All foals vaccinated intra-rectally seroconverted after the first vaccine, compared to 50% and 0% of foals in groups 1 and 3, respectively. Pre-medication with omeprazole prior to oral vaccination in group 1 foals led to an earlier and stronger detectable humoral response compared to non pre-medicated foals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-462
Number of pages5
JournalVeterinary Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2009



  • Foals
  • Intra-rectal vaccine
  • Lawsonia intracellularis
  • Modified-live vaccine
  • Oral vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)

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