Vaccination as a potential means to prevent plague in black-footed ferrets: Progress and continuing challenges

Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5293
By: , and 



This study was conducted to further assess the feasibility of vaccinating black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) against plague (caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis). On days 0 and 28, 17 postreproductive ferrets were immunized by subcutaneous injection with a recombinant fusion protein containing F1 and V antigens from Y. pestis. Another 17 animals received a placebo by the same route. Two weeks after the second immunization, mean antibody titers to Y. pestis F1 and V antigens were measured and found to be significantly higher in vaccinates than their preimmunization values (P < 0.0001) and significantly higher than the control values (P < 0.0001). Six months postimmunization, 16 vaccinates and eight controls were challenged with approximately 8,000 colony forming units of virulent plague by subcutaneous inoculation. Eleven of 16 vaccinates (69 percent) survived with no ill effects whereas all eight control animals died within 3a??6 days. Two months later, the 11 surviving vaccinates were challenged again by ingestion of a plague-infected mouse. None of the animals showed any ill effects and all survived. In contrast, seven control ferrets fed infected mice died within 2a??4 days, including one animal that did not actually ingest the mouse but was likely exposed to it. This study demonstrates that immunization of ferrets with the recombinant F1-V fusion protein can induce significant antibody responses and reduce their susceptibility to plague infection.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Vaccination as a potential means to prevent plague in black-footed ferrets: Progress and continuing challenges
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2005-5293
DOI 10.3133/2002466
Year Published 2006
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center, National Wildlife Health Center
Description 5 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Larger Work Title Recovery of the black-footed ferret: Progress and continuing challenges (Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5293)
First page 243
Last page 247
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