Evaluation of the effects of a killed whole-cell vaccine against Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis in 3 herds of dairy cattle with natural exposure to the organism

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2013 Mar 1;242(5):663-9. doi: 10.2460/javma.242.5.663.


Objective: To evaluate effects of vaccination with a killed whole-cell vaccine against Mycobacterium avium subsp paratuberculosis (MAP) on fecal shedding of the organism, development of clinical paratuberculosis (Johne's disease [JD]), milk production, measures of reproduction, and within-herd longevity of dairy cattle naturally exposed to MAP.

Design: Controlled clinical trial.

Animals: 200 vaccinated and 195 unvaccinated (control) dairy cows from 3 herds in Wisconsin.

Procedures: Every other heifer calf born in each herd received the MAP vaccine; 162 vaccinates and 145 controls that had ≥ 1 lactation were included in analyses. Bacteriologic culture of fecal samples for MAP was performed annually for 7 years; results were confirmed via histologic methods and PCR assay. Production records and culture results were evaluated to determine effects of vaccination on variables of interest in study cows. Annual whole-herd prevalence of MAP shedding in feces was also determined.

Results: Vaccinates had a significantly lower hazard of testing positive for MAP via culture of fecal samples than did controls over time (hazard ratio, 0.57; 95% confidence interval, 0.34 to 0.97). Fewer vaccinates developed clinical JD than did controls (n = 6 and 12, respectively), but these differences were nonsignificant. Overall within-herd longevity, total milk production, and calving-to-conception intervals were similar between vaccinates and controls. In all herds, prevalence of MAP shedding in feces decreased over time.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Vaccination with a killed whole-cell MAP vaccine appeared to be an effective tool as part of a program to control the spread of JD in dairy cattle.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Vaccines / immunology*
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Dairying
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis / immunology*
  • Paratuberculosis / microbiology
  • Paratuberculosis / prevention & control*


  • Bacterial Vaccines