Cattle remain immunocompetent during the acute phase of foot-and-mouth disease virus infection

Infection of cattle with foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) results in the development of long-term protective antibody responses. In contrast, inactivated antigen vaccines fail to induce long-term protective immunity. Differences between susceptible species have also been observed during infection with FMDV, with cattle often developing persistent infections whilst pigs develop more severe symptoms and excrete higher levels of virus. This study examined the early immune response to FMDV in naïve cattle after in-contact challenge. Cattle exposed to FMDV were found to be viraemic and produced neutralising antibody, consistent with previous reports. In contrast to previous studies in pigs these cattle did not develop leucopenia, and the proliferative responses of peripheral blood mononuclear cells to either mitogen or third party antigen were not suppressed. Low levels of type 1 interferon and IL-10 were detected in the circulation. Taken together, these results suggest that there was no generalised immunosuppression during the acute phase of FMDV infection in cattle.

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