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Vet Microbiol. 2004 Mar 5;98(3-4):273-84.

Resistance of broiler chickens to Escherichia coli respiratory tract infection induced by passively transferred egg-yolk antibodies.

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  • 1Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ont., Canada N1G 2W1.


Egg-yolk antibodies induced by immunizing hens with selected Escherichia coli antigens were evaluated for their ability to protect broiler chickens against respiratory/septicemic disease caused by avian pathogenic E. coli (APEC). Seven groups of broiler breeder hens were vaccinated three times, 1 week apart with live E. coli, killed E. coli, E. coli antigens [lipopolysaccharide (LPS), type 1 pilus adhesin (FimH), P pilus adhesin (PapG), aerobactin outer membrane receptor (IutA)] or phosphate buffered saline (PBS). An O78 APEC strain was used for preparation of all the antigens. Egg yolk immunoglobulins (IgY) were purified from eggs of each group and antibody activity in serum and purified IgY was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). IgY (100mg) was injected intramuscularly into 11-day-old broiler chickens, which were challenged 3 days later with homologous (O78) or heterologous (O1 or O2) E. coli by the intra-air sac route. Mortality was recorded and surviving chickens were euthanized 1 week after the challenge and examined for macroscopic lesions. Passive antibodies against all antigens except FimH were protective (90-100%) against the homologous challenge, but only anti-PapG and anti-IutA were effective against heterologous challenge. Anti-PapG IgY provided the greatest protection against the three serogroups of E. coli used for challenge. Hence vaccination of broiler breeders to induce anti-PapG and anti-IutA antibodies may provide passive protection of progeny chicks against respiratory/septicemic disease caused by APEC.

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