Equine herpesvirus type 2 (EHV-2) as a predisposing factor for Rhodococcus equi pneumonia in foals: Prevention of the bifactorial disease with EHV-2 immunostimulating complexes

A. Nordengrahn, M. Rusvai, M. Merza, J. Ekström, B. Morein, S. Belák

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Equine herpesvirus type 2 (EHV-2), a member of the Gammaherpesvirinae subfamily, was studied in a two-phase respiratory disease complex of young foals as a predisposing factor for the secondary bacterial invasion of lungs with Rhodococcus equi (R. equi). Foals were immunized against EHV-2 on a farm where R. equi pneumonia regularly occurred during the last years. The immunizations were performed by using a subunit vaccine which selectively presents envelope glycoproteins of EHV-2 in a multimeric form of immunostimulating complexes (iscoms). The etiological role of EHV-2 was estimated by observing the occurrence of the respiratory disease complex in groups of foals immunized against the virus. In comparison to non-immunized controls. The immunization trials of young animals revealed that the iscom subunit vaccine formulation is able to overcome the interference of maternal antibodies. Active immunization of foals with a single dose of the iscoms provided a certain degree of protection, while two injections of iscoms yielded complete protection against the disease complex in the majority of the treated animals, by preventing the manifestation of R. equi pneumonia. The present findings strongly support the hypothesis that EHV-2 is a predisposing factor for the R. equi invasion of the respiratory tract. The EHV-2 iscom formulation provides highly specific and effective means to prevent the disease complex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-68
Number of pages14
JournalVeterinary Microbiology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1996



  • Equine herpesvirus type 2
  • Horse
  • Immunostimulating complex
  • Iscom
  • Respiratory disease
  • Rhodococcus equi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)

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