To assist in the evaluation of BCG vaccination in African buffaloes (Syncerus caffer), an infection model for Mycobacterium bovis was established, using an intratonsilar route of inoculation. Two groups of 11 buffaloes each, aged approximately 18 months, were infected with either 3,2 x 102 cfu (low dose) or 3 x 104 (high dose) of virulent buffalo strain M. bovis. A control group of six buffaloes received saline via the same route. The infection status was monitored using the intradermal tuberculin test, an ELISA and a modified interferon-gamma assay. All buffaloes were euthanased 22 weeks post infection and the development of lesions in the left retropharyngeal lymph node was evaluated by macroscopic examination, mycobacterial culture and histopathology. It was found that the high dose caused macroscopic lesions in 9 out of 11 buffaloes that were comparable to that observed in buffaloes with natural disease. Mycobacterium bovis was isolated from all animals in the high dose and from 6 out of 11 buffaloes in the low dose group. The efficacy of a live BCG-Pasteur vaccine was tested in a group of buffalo calves captured in the northern districts of the Kruger National Park from herds with known negative tuberculosis status. Primary and booster vaccinations with BCG (1173P2) were administered to 15 calves, while another 15 were left unvaccinated as control animals. All the buffalo calves were challenged with the high dose of live M. bovis (as determined in the Infection Model) via intratonsilar inoculation. Laboratory tests were able to distinguish between infected and non-infected animals from an early stage. All buffaloes were euthanased 34 weeks after infection and the development of lesions in the lymph nodes of the head, thorax, carcass and abdomen was evaluated by macroscopic examination, mycobacterial culture and histopathology. The lungs were carefully palpated to detect the presence of tuberculous granulomas. Macroscopic lesions in the lymph nodes were found in 10 out of 14 control buffaloes and 7 out of 15 vaccinated animals. The lesions were comparable to that observed in buffaloes with natural infection. The lesion scores of individual animals were generally much higher in the BCG vaccine study than what was experienced with the Infection Model. Mycobacterium bovis was isolated from 12 out of 14 control animals and from 12 out of 15 vaccinated buffaloes. Although fewer vaccinated animals developed tuberculous lesions, the differences between the two groups were not statistically significant and it can be concluded that under the prevailing conditions the BCG vaccine was unable to protect buffalo calves against the establishment of M. bovis infection.
Dissertation (MSc (Tropical Diseases))--University of Pretoria, 2006.