Protection against herpes B virus infection in rabbits with a recombinant vaccinia virus expressing glycoprotein D

A. M. Bennett*, M. J. Slomka, D. W.G. Brown, Graham Lloyd, M. Mackett

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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    Herpes B virus infects naturally monkeys of the macaque genus in whom it can cause recurrent oral and genital lesions. However, when the virus infects humans it causes a neurological illness with a high case fatality rate. Successful treatment is possible but this depends on diagnosis prior to the onset of respiratory arrest, and fatalities over the last 10 years have been the result of late or no diagnostic data on which to base anti-viral intervention. An effective vaccine would be an ideal way to combat the risk of herpes B virus disease in humans working with potentially infected monkeys or their tissues. A recombinant vaccinia virus expressing herpes B virus glycoprotein D (gD) was constructed and rabbits inoculated with the chimeric virus were tested for immunoglobulin responses to herpes B virus by virus neutralisation, ELISA and Western blot analyses. Anti-gD humoral responses were detected in all vaccinated animals by ELISA and Western blot but neutralising antibody was not detected prior to challenge with herpes B virus. Non-vaccinated rabbits died within 8 days of challenge while 10/11 vaccinated animals were protected against herpes B virus disease. No antibodies to herpes B virus proteins other than gD were detectable in surviving animals, suggesting minimal herpes B virus replication post challenge. Autopsies were carried out on 4/10 rabbits which had remained healthy at 31 days post challenge and the dorsal root ganglia adjacent to the inoculation site were removed. Attempts to detect herpes B virus DNA by PCR followed by hybridisation proved negative suggesting protection against latent herpes B virus infection.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)47-56
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Medical Virology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 1999


    • Cercopithecine herpesvirus 1
    • Protective immune response
    • Recombinant vaccine


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