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Field and laboratory findings following the large-scale use of intermediate type infectious bursal disease vaccines in Denmark

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Following a period of clinical outbreaks of very virulent infectious bursal disease virus (vvIBDV) in Denmark, the histological bursal lesion score (HBLS) was used on a national scale to screen broiler flocks vaccinated with intermediate IBD vaccines for lesions indicative of IBDV challenge. High lesion scores were detected in a high percentage of healthy and well performing flocks despite the lack of other indications of the presence of vvIBDV. RT–PCR and subsequent sequencing showed the frequent presence of H253Q and H253N IBDV strains that were genetically close to the sequence of the intermediate vaccines with a relative risk ratio of 13.0 (P < 0.0001) in intermediate vaccine A or B vaccinated flocks compared to unvaccinated flocks. The relevance of these H253Q and H253N strains was tested under experimental conditions using a protocol derived from the European Pharmacopoeia for safety of live IBD vaccines. The results confirmed the higher pathogenicity for the bursa of these strains compared to intermediate vaccines as well as the negative effect on antibody response to a Newcastle disease (ND) vaccination performed at the peak of the bursa damage. The efficacy of the ND vaccination was still 100% showing that the H253N and H253Q IBDV strains would be considered as safe vaccine viruses. In conclusion, the use of the HBLS to screen commercial broiler flocks vaccinated with intermediate IBD vaccines for the presence of vvIBDV does not seem to be a reliable method due to the frequent occurrence of H253N and H253Q strains in those flocks. For screening of IBD vaccinated flocks for the presence of vvIBDV or other field strains, the RT–PCR with subsequent sequencing seems to be most suitable.
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Keywords: H253N; H253Q; Infectious bursal disease; Newcastle disease; bursa lesions; intermediate vaccines

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Landbrugets Veterinaere Konsulenttjeneste (LVK), Hobro, Denmark 2: GD Animal Health, Deventer, the Netherlands 3: MSD Animal Health, Boxmeer, the Netherlands 4: Elanco Animal Health, Utrecht, the Netherlands 5: Ceva Animal Health, Libourne, France 6: Veterinary Faculty, University of Utrecht, the Netherlands 7: Ceva Animal Health, Lenexa, KS, USA

Publication date: November 2, 2018

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