Although livestock vaccination is effective in preventing Rift Valley fever (RVF) epidemics, there are concerns about safety and effectiveness of the only commercially available RVF Smithburn vaccine. We conducted a randomized controlled field trial to evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of the new RVF Clone 13 vaccine, recently registered in South Africa.
In a blinded randomized controlled field trial, 404 animals (85 cattle, 168 sheep, and 151 goats) in three farms in Kenya were divided into three groups. Group A included males and non-pregnant females that were randomized and assigned to two groups; one vaccinated with RVF Clone 13 and the other given placebo. Groups B included animals in 1st half of pregnancy, and group C animals in 2nd half of pregnancy, which were also randomized and either vaccinated and given placebo. Animals were monitored for one year and virus antibodies titers assessed on days 14, 28, 56, 183 and 365.
In vaccinated goats (N = 72), 72% developed anti-RVF virus IgM antibodies and 97% neutralizing IgG antibodies. In vaccinated sheep (N = 77), 84% developed IgM and 91% neutralizing IgG antibodies. Vaccinated cattle (N = 42) did not develop IgM antibodies but 67% developed neutralizing IgG antibodies. At day 14 post-vaccination, the odds of being seropositive for IgG in the vaccine group was 3.6 (95% CI, 1.5 – 9.2) in cattle, 90.0 (95% CI, 25.1 – 579.2) in goats, and 40.0 (95% CI, 16.5 – 110.5) in sheep. Abortion was observed in one vaccinated goat but histopathologic analysis did not indicate RVF virus infection. There was no evidence of teratogenicity in vaccinated or placebo animals.
The results suggest RVF Clone 13 vaccine is safe to use and has high (>90%) immunogenicity in sheep and goats but moderate (> 65%) immunogenicity in cattle.