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To determine the ability of Brucella abortus strain RB51 to induce placentitis and abortion in bison after SC vaccination.


10 pregnant bison cows, 3 to 10 years old and at 3 to 8 months' gestation.


Pregnant bison cows on a Montana ranch were vaccinated SC with 109 colony-forming units of B abortus strain RB51. Two cows, identified prior to the study, were euthanatized and examined 5 weeks after vaccination to obtain optimal histologic samples of placenta. Other cows were euthanatized and examined after abortion. After euthanasia, tissue specimens were collected for histologic and immunohistochemical evaluation. Tissue and fluid specimens for bacteriologic culture were also collected during necropsy.


Of 8 cows, 2 aborted at 68 and 107 days after vaccination. Aborting cows had endometritis. Strain RB51 was isolated from reproductive tissues and supramammary lymph nodes. Fetal lesions were not seen; however, fetal bronchial lymph nodes and amniotic fluid contained strain RB51. Cows examined 5 weeks after vaccination had placentitis and endometritis, with numerous bacteria within trophoblastic epithelial cells that were immunoreactive for strain RB51 antigen. Strain RB51 was isolated from placentomes and numerous lymph nodes. Fetal lesions were not seen 5 weeks after vaccination; however, strain RB51 was isolated from numerous lymph nodes and lung, allantoic fluid, and rectal swab specimens.


The vaccine candidate B abortus RB51 has tropism for the bison placenta, and can cause placentitis, which induces abortion in pregnant bison. The vaccine dose used was similar to that being tested in cattle, but may not be appropriate for pregnant bison. (Am J Vet Res 1996;57:1604–1607)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research