Efficacy of an autogenous vaccine against highly virulent <i>Staphylococcus aureus </i>infection in rabbits


  • G. Meulemans Ghent University
  • F. Haesebrouck Ghent University
  • U. Lipinska Ghent University
  • L. Duchateau Ghent University
  • K. Hermans Ghent University




Staphylococcus aureus, virulence, infection, rabbit, skin, autovaccine


The efficacy of an autogenous vaccine consisting of a whole cell suspension of formalin killed bacteria in sterile buffered saline against Staphylococcus aureus infections was determined, using a well-established rabbit skin infection model. Thirteen eight-week-old rabbits were vaccinated twice subcutaneously with a two-week interval while ten rabbits were injected twice with sterile buffered saline. Two weeks after the last injection, ten vaccinated and all PBS-injected rabbits were inoculated intradermally with 108 cfu of a S. aureus strain which had been shown to be highly virulent for rabbits. Three vaccinated animals served as negative controls and were intradermally injected with sterile buffered saline. All rabbits were examined daily for the development of skin lesions until fourteen days after the experimental infection when all rabbits were euthanised. All animals experimentally infected with S. aureus developed skin abscesses within 24 hours post-inoculation, but in the vaccinated group the maximum abscess diameter was significantly lower than in the non-vaccinated group (P=0.048). The difference between the autovaccinated and non-vaccinated group increased over time (P<0.001). These results indicate that vaccination with an inactivated whole cell bacterin may be useful for control of staphylococcosis in rabbits but does not prevent abscess formation in animals inoculated with a high dose of a highly virulent S. aureus strain.


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Author Biographies

G. Meulemans, Ghent University

Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Poultry Diseases. Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

F. Haesebrouck, Ghent University

Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Poultry Diseases. Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

U. Lipinska, Ghent University

Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Poultry Diseases. Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

L. Duchateau, Ghent University

Department of Physiology and Biometrics. Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

K. Hermans, Ghent University

Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Poultry Diseases. Faculty of Veterinary Medicine


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