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Vet J. 2005 Sep;170(2):175-83.

Evolution of Marek's disease -- a paradigm for incessant race between the pathogen and the host.

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Viral Oncogenesis Group, Institute for Animal Health, Compton, Berkshire RG20 7NN, UK.


Marek's disease (MD) is a highly contagious lymphoproliferative disease of poultry caused by the oncogenic herpesvirus designated Marek's disease virus (MDV). MD has a worldwide distribution and is thought to cause an annual loss over 1 bn US dollars to the poultry industry. Originally described as a paralytic disease, today MD is mostly manifested as an acute disease with tumours in multiple visceral organs. MD is controlled essentially by the widespread use of live vaccines administered either in ovo into 18-day-old embryos or into chicks immediately after they hatch. In spite of the success of the vaccines in reducing the losses from the disease in the last 30 years, MDV strains have shown continuous evolution in virulence acquiring the ability to overcome the immune responses induced by the vaccines. During this period, different generations of MD vaccines have been introduced to protect birds from the increasingly virulent MDV strains. However, the virus has countered each new vaccine with ever more virulent strains. This continuous race between the virus and the host is making the control of this poultry health problem a major challenge for the future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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