Comparison of Serologic Titers Between a Traditional Killed Feline Vaccine and a Killed Feline Vaccine with an Additional Calicivirus Strain in Captive Tigers
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2009
Tara M. Harrison1,2, DVM, MPVM, DACZM; James G. Sikarskie2, DVM, MS, DACZM; Douglas Armstrong3, DVM
1Potter Park Zoo, Lansing, MI, USA; 2College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA; 3Henry Doorly Zoo, Omaha, NE, USA


Vaccine recommendations have been similar in tigers for years.1,3 Research has not been done in exotic cats to evaluate if newer vaccines provide greater protection. Strains of viral antigens have changed in feline vaccines since the development of the initial vaccine protocol recommended by the Species Survival Plan (SSP). There has also been one outbreak of virulent systemic calicivirus in a zoological institution.2 The current vaccine is not protective against this strain. This study retrospectively evaluated viral titers of 24 tigers vaccinated with the currently recommended vaccine (Fort Dodge Felovax PCT). These 24 tigers were vaccinated with a new vaccine which included an additional calicivirus antigen which is protective against virulent systemic calicivirus (Fort Dodge Felovax with calicivax).

There were three species of tigers represented including Amur (Panthera tigris altaica) (14), Bengal (Panthera tigris tigris) (3), and Malayan (Panthera tigris jacksoni) (1). The remaining tigers included were hybrids (6) including 18 females and 6 males. There were no reports of adverse vaccine reactions.

Serologic titers of most tigers was minimal prior to vaccination with the new vaccine, despite routine vaccination protocols ranging from 1–2 years. The new vaccine with the addition of the calicivirus antigen produced higher titers for longer in comparison to the previously recommended vaccine. Titers of calicivirus and herpesvirus declined within a year’s time to potentially non-protective levels. In areas with risks of exposure to herpesvirus or calicivirus it would be recommended to vaccinate animals yearly with the newer vaccine to provide continued protection.


The authors would like to thank the veterinarians, staff, and tigers of: Columbus Zoo, Detroit Zoo, Gladys Porter Zoo, Henry Doorly Zoo, Indianapolis Zoo, Pittsburg Zoo, Potter Park Zoo, and Toledo Zoo for their participation in this study. The authors would also like to thank Fort Dodge for their assistance in this project.

Literature Cited

1.  Armstrong DL, Morfeld K, Lewandowski AH, Dumonceaux G, Quigley K. Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) species survival plan update. In: Proceedings of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Annual Meeting. 2004:321–325.

2.  Harrison TM, Sikarskie J, Kruger J, Wise A, Mullaney TP, Kiupel M, Maes RK. Systemic calicivirus epidemic in captive exotic felids. J Zoo Wildl Med. 2007;2:292–299.

3.  Tilson R, Brady G, Dulaney M, Traylor-Holzer K, Armstrong D. Tiger SSP population status, international programs, contraception and vaccination. Tiger SSP Report. 2002:1–10.


Speaker Information
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Tara M. Harrison, DVM, MPVM, DACZM
Potter Park Zoo
Lansing, MI, USA

College of Veterinary Medicine
Michigan State University
Lansing, MI, USA

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