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There is a need for live DIVA (differentiating infected from vaccinated animals) vaccines against classical swine fever (CSF). The aim of this study was to investigate whether vaccination with the chimeric pestivirus vaccine CP7_E2alf is efficacious to protect young piglets born from vaccinated sows, thus with maternally derived antibodies (MDAs). Groups of 10 piglets each, with or without MDAs, were vaccinated either intramuscularly (IM), at an age of 3 or 6 weeks, or orally (OR), at an age of 6 weeks. Five piglets of each group were challenged with CSFV strain Koslov and protection against clinical disease, virus shedding and transmission were studied. Vaccination with CP7_E2alf, both in the presence of MDA's and in piglets without MDA's, protected against severe clinical signs, but virus shedding from most inoculated piglets and transmission to contact pigs was observed. However, virus transmission in the vaccinated piglets was significantly reduced as compared to non-vaccinated piglets, although the reproduction ratio's R calculated from the results in the vaccinated pigs from our study were not yet significantly below 1. The efficacy of vaccination with CP7_E2alf in the presence of MDAs (RIMvac = 0.8, RORvac = 0.4) seemed to be slightly less as compared to vaccination in the absence of MDAs (RIMvac = 0.2, RORvac = 0). On a population level, the results suggest that the CP7_E2alf vaccine is an effective tool in the control and eradication of CSF and, moreover, can be applied for both IM and oral use for young age groups, with MDAs having a limited effect on the efficacy.
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