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Evaluation of serological, histological and immunocytochemical methods for the detection of infectious bursal disease virus infection in broiler flocks in New Zealand

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AIMS: TO study and compare three diagnostic methods for the detection of infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) infection.

METHODS: Samples of sera and bursae were collected from two flocks from each of two broiler farms (Farms A and B) in which IBD had occurred or was suspected to have occurred. Sera were tested in ELISA and agar gel precipitation tests for the presence of IBD antibodies. Bursae were examined histologically for evidence of IBD lesions. An immunocytochemical test was developed to detect IBDV antigens in sections of bursa.

RESULTS: Bursae from serologically negative, 45day-old birds from Farm A, Flock 1 and from serologically positive 49day-old birds from Farm B, Flock 1 had histological and immunocytochemical evidence of IBDV infection. Birds from Farm A, Flock 2, sampled 12 months after the sampling of Flock 1, and specific-pathogen-free birds, showed no evidence of IBDV infection by any of the three diagnostic methods. Birds from Farm B, Flock 2, sampled on four occasions, were positive for IBD at 20 days of age by histology and immunocytochemistry, but did not seroconvert until 42 days of age.

CONCLUSIONS: Serological testing is not a reliable method for the detection of IBDV infection in New Zealand broiler flocks because antibodies may not have developed to detectable levels by the time of slaughter. Histological examination of bursae allowed the demonstration of IBD-like lesions, but these need to be differentiated from those caused by other agents. The immunocytochemistry test was able to detect early IBDV infection. It provided a rapid, definitive diagnosis and may be useful in control programmes. The results from Farm A demonstrate that strict biosecurity measures can be successful in the eradication of IBDV.

KEY WORDS: Infectious bursal disease virus, ELISA, AGP test, histology, immunocytochemistry.
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Keywords: Bird; Pathology; Serology; Viral

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-10-01

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