Rinderpest is an acute and highly contagious viral disease of ruminants, often resulting in greater than 90% mortality. We have constructed a recombinant vaccinia virus vaccine (v2RVFH) that expresses both the fusion (F) and hemagglutinin (H) genes of rinderpest virus (RPV) under strong synthetic vaccinia virus promoters. v2RVFH-infected cells express high levels of the F and H glycoproteins and show extensive syncytium formation. Cattle vaccinated intramuscularly with as little as 103 PFU of v2RVFH and challenged 1 month later with a lethal dose of RPV were completely protected from clinical disease; the 50% protective dose was determined to be 102 PFU. Animals vaccinated with v2RVFH did not develop pock lesions and did not transmit the recombinant vaccinia virus to contact animals. Intramuscular vaccination of cattle with 108 PFU of v2RVFH provided long-term sterilizing immunity against rinderpest. In addition to being highly safe and efficacious, v2RVFH is a heat-stable, inexpensive, and easily administered vaccine that allows the serological differentiation between vaccinated and naturally infected animals. Consequently, mass vaccination of cattle with v2RVFH could eradicate rinderpest.
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