Antibody responses to natural rattlesnake envenomation and a rattlesnake toxoid vaccine in horses.


Antivenom antibody titers following administration of rattlesnake venom for antivenom production in horses are well documented; however, antivenom antibody titers following natural rattlesnake envenomation in horses are not. Antibody titers produced in response to the commercially available rattlesnake venom vaccine are also not published. Our study objectives were to measure antivenom antibody titers in rattlesnake-bitten horses and compare them to titers in horses vaccinated with the rattlesnake venom vaccine. Additionally, titers were compared in pregnant versus nonpregnant horses to assess the affect of pregnancy on vaccine response and were measured pre- and postsuckle in foals of vaccinated mares to detect passive transfer of vaccine immunoglobulins. Blood samples were collected from 16 rattlesnake-bitten horses. Thirty-six horses (11 pregnant mares, 12 nonpregnant mares, 13 geldings) were vaccinated using a Crotalus atrox venom toxoid vaccine. Blood was collected before administering each vaccination and 30 days following the third vaccination. Blood was collected from foals of vaccinated mares pre- and postsuckle. All serum was assayed for anti-Crotalus atrox venom antibodies using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Rattlesnake-bitten horses had higher (P = 0.001) titers than vaccinated horses. There was no significant difference between titers in vaccinated pregnant versus nonpregnant horses. One mare had a positive titer at foaling, and the foals had positive postsuckle titers. Antivenom antibody titer development was variable following natural envenomation and vaccination, and vaccine-induced titers were lower than natural envenomation titers. Further studies are required to determine if natural or vaccine antivenom antibody titers reduce the effects of envenomation.

DOI: 10.1128/CVI.00004-13

Cite this paper

@article{Gilliam2013AntibodyRT, title={Antibody responses to natural rattlesnake envenomation and a rattlesnake toxoid vaccine in horses.}, author={Lyndi L Gilliam and Robert C Carmichael and Todd C Holbrook and Jennifer M. Taylor and Charlotte L Ownby and D Mcfarlane and Mark Edward Payton}, journal={Clinical and vaccine immunology : CVI}, year={2013}, volume={20 5}, pages={732-7} }