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Avian Dis. 1999 Oct-Dec;43(4):721-37.

Four distinct neurologic syndromes in Marek's disease: effect of viral strain and pathotype.

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Departamento de Patología Animal II, Facultad de Veterinaria, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain.


A chronological study of central nervous system disorders induced by Marek's disease virus (MDV) has been conducted. Neurologic clinical signs were recorded daily for individual chickens of two genetic lines after inoculation of 13 serotype 1 MDV strains representing all three pathotypes. In addition to classical transient paralysis (TP) previously described by many workers, and acute TP, described in the companion paper, we have identified for the first time two other neurologic syndromes, persistent neurologic disease (PND) and late paralysis (LP). PND designates birds that showed a variety of neurologic signs (ataxia, torticollis, and nervous tics) after recovery from paralysis (12-15 days postin-oculation [DPI]) that either persisted through the observation period or presented a cyclic pattern. LP was a rare syndrome characterized by the late onset of the paralytic stage (about 20 DPI), perhaps indicating occasional failure of the initial intraabdominal inoculation to induce infection. Clinical signs and histopathologic alterations of the brain were also evaluated sequentially in chickens of two genetic lines after inoculation with two MDV strains (virulent MDV and very virulent plus MDV). Although clinical response differed greatly among treatment groups, types of lesions (endotheliosis, mononuclear perivascular cuffing, vasculitis, vacuolization, and increase in cellularity of the neuropil) were similar. However, early onset of lesions (by 6 days) appeared to be associated with a greater severity of clinical signs. We also found that neurologic response was greatly influenced by viral pathotype (virulence). This study thus confirms that the central nervous system is an important target organ for MDV resulting in several distinct clinical manifestations and suggests that neurologic responses in antibody-free chickens might be a useful criterion for virus pathotyping.

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