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Avian Dis. 1997 Oct-Dec;41(4):910-22.

Efficacy of recombinant fowl poxvirus vaccine in protecting chickens against a highly pathogenic Mexican-origin H5N2 avian influenza virus.

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USDA, Agriculture Research Service, Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, Athens, GA 30605, USA.


Internationally and nationally, governments and the poultry industries have used various strategies to control avian influenza (AI), ranging from a minimum of living with mildly pathogenic AI virus (AIV) infections to the other extreme of implementing a total quarantine-slaughter approach for eradication of highly pathogenic (HP) forms of the disease. However, recent economic considerations in various countries have prompted a broader reevaluation of vaccination as one of several tools to be used in AI control programs, including H5 and H7 HP AI. In the current study, 1-day-old chickens were immunized with a recombinant fowl poxvirus vaccine containing a hemagglutinin gene insert (Vector-HA) from an H5 AIV. Vector-HA- and negative control (vector-control)-vaccinated chicks were challenged with a HP H5N2 AIV isolated from chickens in Mexico. All immunized chickens were antibody negative on the agar gel precipitin test, indicating that vaccination would not interfere with routine AI serologic surveillance programs in the United States. However, in the hemagglutinin-inhibition test, a few immunized chickens (8%) had low serologic titers. Protection against illness (90-100%) and death (90-100%) was provided by the vector-HA vaccine from 3 wk of age to the end of the 20-wk study. The number of chickens shedding the challenge AIV from their enteric tracts was significantly reduced (50-75%) and the quantity of challenge AIV shed from respiratory and enteric tracts was significantly reduced (10(1)-10(2.1) mean embryo lethal dose/ml) in most vector-HA vaccine groups when compared with vector-control groups. Furthermore, vector-HA vaccination reduced in contact transmission of HP AI challenge virus to both vector-HA- and vector-control-vaccinated chickens. These findings indicate the recombinant fowl poxvirus vaccine can be a useful tool in an AI control program by preventing illness and death in chickens and reducing intestinal and respiratory shedding of H5 AIV. However, for an AI control program to be successful, enhanced biosecurity and surveillance must be practiced, and the vaccine's use must be controlled by an industry and/or government task force.

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