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Standardization of a model to study revaccination against Marek's disease under laboratory conditions

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Revaccination, the practice of administering Marek's disease (MD) vaccine a second time, has been used in commercial poultry flocks for many years. The rationale is largely anecdotal as the few published reports have failed to provide support for the value of the practice. In the present work, we have standardized a model to study MD revaccination under laboratory conditions. Nine bird experiments were conducted to evaluate homologous revaccination (same vaccine administered twice) and heterologous revaccination (administration of two different vaccines) with various challenge models. Our results demonstrated that heterologous revaccination (with a second vaccine more protective than the first vaccine) but not homologous revaccination provided a beneficial increase in protection. Administration of the first vaccine at 18 days of embryonation followed by a more protective second vaccine at hatch reproduced systematically the benefits of revaccination. In addition, our results show that revaccination protocols might aid in solving major drawbacks associated with various highly protective experimental MD vaccines; that is, lymphoid organ atrophy and residual virulence. Strain RM1 is one of the most protective vaccines against early challenge with highly virulent MD virus but it induces severe lymphoid atrophy in chickens lacking maternal antibodies against MD virus. In this study, strain RM1 did not induce lymphoid organ atrophy when administered as second vaccine in a revaccination protocol. Similarly, strain 648A100/BP5 maintains residual virulence in chickens lacking maternal antibodies against MD virus but did not induce any lesions when used as a second vaccine. Until now, arbitrary revaccination protocols have been occasionally proven useful to the poultry industry. The model developed in this study will allow for a better understanding of this phenomenon and its optimization. A more rational use of this practice will be of great help to control MD outbreaks until better vaccines are available.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Population Health and Pathobiology Department,College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh,North Carolina, USA 2: USDA-ARS Avian Disease and Oncology Laboratory, East Lansing,Michigan, USA 3: College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences,Texas A&M University, College StationTexas, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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