Archive for December 12th, 2009


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There are two main types of immunisation, either passive or active immunity. Passive immunity being that derived naturally from a mother. A young animal will gain antibodies from its mother either during birth via the placenta or shortly after birth when the animal consumes colostrum from its mother. It is also possible to gain passive immunity by artificial means, this involves injecting an individual with an antisera (containing specific immunoglobulins). There are advantages and disadvantages of this artificial passive immunisation, the main benefit being that the resulting immunisation is immediately effective. The disadvantages include:

  • Temporary effect, lasting only until the Ig proteins are metabolised (a few weeks)
  • Only has an effect with diseases where an antibody response is the principle method of protection (as opposed to cell-mediated responses)
  • There is the possibility that hypersensitivity may arise from use of serums which have been obtained from foreign species
  • Induction of an active acquired immunity is blocked

The other type of immunisation is active immunisation, this is actively acquired immunity derived from either a natural infection or from artificial immunisation (inoculation with a weakened or dead organism).