The first effective Brucella vaccine was based on live Brucella abortus strain 19, a laboratory-derived strain attenuated by an unknown process during subculture. This induces reasonable protection against B. abortus, but at the expense of persistent serological responses. A similar problem occurs with the B. melitensis Rev.1 strain that is still the most effective vaccine against caprine and ovine brucellosis. Vaccines based on killed cells of virulent strains administered with adjuvant induced significant protection but also unacceptable levels of antibodies interfering with diagnostic tests. Attempts were made to circumvent this problem by using a live rough strain B. abortus 45/20, but this reverted to virulence in vivo. Use of killed cells of this strain in adjuvant met with moderate success but batch to batch variation in reactogenicity and agglutinogenicity limited application. This problem has been overcome by the development of the rifampicin-resistant mutant B. abortus RB51 strain. This strain has proved safe and effective in the field against bovine brucellosis and exhibits negligible interference with diagnostic serology. Attempts are being made to develop defined rough mutant vaccine strains that would be more effective against B. melitensis and B. suis. Various studies have examined cell-free native and recombinant proteins as candidate protective antigens, with or without adjuvants. Limited success has been obtained with these or with DNA vaccines encoding known protective antigens in experimental models and further work is indicated.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science B.V.