The following commentary does not necessarily reflect the views of AgWeb or Farm Journal. The opinions expressed below are the author's own.
Diagnostic testing, in the short term, provides a scientific basis for treatments and management decisions to address livestock diseases. In the longer term, identifying the pathogens involved helps veterinarians and producers design more effective vaccine protocols and other preventive strategies.At Newport Laboratories, the process reaches further, with tests to identify and multiply specific isolates involved in an outbreak, for use in developing autogenous vaccines, targeting those exact viral or bacterial strains. Diagnostic testing in this way becomes more proactive, rather than reactive.
Some of our Farm Journal editorial team recently had an opportunity to visit the Worthington, Minn. headquarters of Newport Laboratories, a Boehringer Ingelheim Company, and learn more about diagnostic testing and custom vaccine production.
Upcoming articles on our website will provide greater detail on these processes, particularly the development, use and evaluation of autogenous vaccines. This post outlines a few take-home points from the visit.
- Modern genetic technologies including next-generation genome sequencing, Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing allow scientists to accurately identify specific pathogen serotypes, virulence factors and antimicrobial susceptibility.
- Viruses and bacteria continuously evolve, and the prevalence of some strains can increase while others decline. With continuous testing, isolation and analysis, a custom-vaccine manufacturer can respond quickly with products that reflect the strains currently circulating in livestock herds.
- Several common cattle pathogens, such as Mannheimia haemolytica, Histophilus somni and Pasteurella multocida have, in Newport’s testing results, shown trends toward decreasing susceptibility to some antibiotics.
- Pinkeye in cattle can involve strains of Moraxella bovis, Moraxella bovoculi, or some combination of the two bacteria species. M. bovoculi has become more prevalent in many cases in recent years. When pinkeye remains a problem in herds in spite of good fly control and use of commercial vaccines, an autogenous vaccine can provide more targeted immunity.
- Custom vaccines can play a key role in addressing emerging diseases by reducing the time from sampling and isolation to field application. Veterinarians and producers also use autogenous vaccines to address “orphan” diseases, which cause economic losses in some herds but are not sufficiently common to support investment in developing commercial vaccines.
- Appropriate sample collection, handling and shipping methods are critical for good diagnostic-testing results. The Newport Laboratories website offers sampling guidelines for cattle and pigs. For more information on custom vaccines and related topics, see these articles on BovineVetOnline.