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Open AccessArticle

Does Herd Immunity Exist in Aquatic Animals?

Department of Pathobiology and Diagnostic Investigation, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Li Lin
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17(11), 1898;
Received: 10 August 2016 / Revised: 25 October 2016 / Accepted: 9 November 2016 / Published: 15 November 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Biochemistry)
Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus genotype IVb (VHSV-IVb) is presently found throughout the Laurentian Great Lakes region of North America. We recently developed a DNA vaccine preparation containing the VHSV-IVb glycoprotein (G) gene with a cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter that proved highly efficacious in protecting muskellunge (Esox masquinongy) and three salmonid species. This study was conducted to determine whether cohabitation of VHSV-IVb immunized fishes could confer protection to non-vaccinated (i.e., naïve) fishes upon challenge. The experimental layout consisted of multiple flow-through tanks where viral exposure was achieved via shedding from VHSV-IVb experimentally infected muskellunge housed in a tank supplying water to other tanks. The mean cumulative mortality of naïve muskellunge averaged across eight trials (i.e., replicates) was significantly lower when co-occurring with immunized muskellunge than when naïve muskellunge were housed alone (36.5% when co-occurring with vaccinated muskellunge versus 80.2% when housed alone), indicating a possible protective effect based on cohabitation with vaccinated individuals. Additionally, vaccinated muskellunge when co-occurring with naïve muskellunge had significantly greater anti-VHSV antibody levels compared to vaccinated muskellunge housed alone suggesting that heightened anti-VHSV antibodies are a result of cohabitation with susceptible individuals. This finding could contribute to the considerably lower viable VHSV-IVb concentrations we detected in surviving naive muskellunge when housed with vaccinated muskellunge. Our research provides initial evidence of the occurrence of herd immunity against fish pathogens. View Full-Text
Keywords: DNA vaccine; herd immunity; fish; muskellunge DNA vaccine; herd immunity; fish; muskellunge
MDPI and ACS Style

Standish, I.F.; Brenden, T.O.; Faisal, M. Does Herd Immunity Exist in Aquatic Animals? Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2016, 17, 1898.

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