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Vet Microbiol. 2006 Mar 10;113(1-2):25-34. Epub 2005 Nov 11.

Live attenuated vaccine-based control of necrotic enteritis of broiler chickens.

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


A vaccine for necrotic enteritis (NE) of chickens would reduce the current need to prevent or treat the disease in broiler chickens with antimicrobial drugs. The objective of this study was to understand aspects of immunity to the disease. The first experiment examined the virulence of six strains of Clostridium perfringens isolated from cases of NE in broiler chickens. Using a 5-day experimental oral infection of 2-week-old broiler chickens, four of the six strains were found to be virulent. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and PCR showed that virulence was not associated with a plasmid encoding the beta2 toxin gene, cpb2, since this was present in virulent and one of the two avirulent strains. In the second experiment, two virulent and one avirulent strains were tested for their ability to immunize ("infection-immunization") chickens through the oral route. The procedure used experimental infection for 5 days followed by bacitracin treatment for 9 days, and then re-challenge 2 days later with a virulent strain, CP4. Infection-immunization with the virulent isolates protected chickens from subsequent virulent challenge, whereas the infection-immunization with the avirulent isolate did not. In a third experiment, two of four alpha-toxin-negative mutants of CP4 protected birds from experimental NE after oral immunization. These two mutants were also attenuated for virulence. We conclude that it is possible to immunize chickens successfully against NE and that immunogen(s) other than alpha-toxin are important in protective immunity against oral infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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