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Avian Pathol. 2004 Feb;33(1):83-92.

Maternal vaccination against subclinical necrotic enteritis in broilers.

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National Veterinary Institute, Oslo, Norway.


The inclusion of antibacterial feed additives has until now been the major strategy for controlling Clostridium perfringens-associated necrotic enteritis in broilers. In the present study, the effect of maternal immunization against the disease was examined. Broiler breeder hens were injected intramuscularly with candidate vaccines based on C. perfringens type A and type C toxoids adjuvanted with aluminium hydroxide. Vaccination resulted in a strong serum immunoglobulin G response to C. perfringens alpha-toxin in parent hens, and specific antibodies were transferred to their progeny. Subclinical necrotic enteritis in broilers was induced under field conditions or in a disease model, and the occurrence of specific enteric and hepatic lesions was evaluated in randomly selected birds. In three experiments, estimates of odds ratio for developing such lesions were 0.23, 0.33 and 0.56 in maternally toxoid C-immunized broilers compared with non-immunized controls. In toxoid A-immunized birds, odds ratios were estimated at 0.41, 0.61 and 0.63. From these results, immunoprophylaxis seems to be an interesting alternative for the control of necrotic enteritis in broilers.

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