European Approach to IB Control Explored for Use in US Flocks

A novel approach to control of infectious bronchitis (IB) that has been effective abroad may be on the horizon for US producers struggling with the disease in their flocks, according to Dr Mark Jackwood, a molecular virologist at the University of Georgia, US, in the Journal of Poultry Respiratory Protection from Merck Animal Health, US.
calendar icon 18 May 2012
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Mark Jackwood, PhD

The new approach is based on the use of IB serotypes, and its adaption for the US poultry industry is being spearheaded by Dr Mark Jackwood, a molecular virologist at the University of Georgia, USA.

It is well known that if just one virus in an IB vaccine is administered, birds will be protected against that particular virus but not other IB viruses, Dr Jackwood said.

However, it is also now known that some IB serotypes have cross-protective ability against other IB serotypes — a phenomenon that scientists call ‘Protectotype’. In addition, when two different IB serotypes are used, birds will develop immunity not only to those serotypes, but they will develop cross-reacting antibodies to some of the other IB serotypes.

“We get a broader type of protection,” he said.

Less Costly

An approach toward IB control involving Protectotype is largely based on work by Jane Cook, PhD, a microbiologist in the UK and recognised authority on IB.

She points out that IB variants arise frequently and that Protectotype is less costly and makes more sense than developing a new vaccine for every variant that arises. Even though the IB virus is capable of frequent mutations, she says, the genetic makeup of the virus changes only minimally and the rest remains the same, which is why some IB serotypes are able to provide cross–protection.

In Europe and elsewhere, research and field experience have demonstrated that using an IB vaccine based on the Massachusetts serotype followed by one based on the IB variant 4/91 — a common variant in Europe — can provide broad protection against many IB variants.

Substitute Strain for US

In his presentation to the World Veterinary Poultry Association (WVPA), Dr Jackwood said: “We don’t have 4/91 in the US and it’s not permitted for good reason; the major problem we have is the Arkansas IB strain. We’re asking what can we substitute for 4/91?”

To this end, Dr Jackwood spent a week in Europe with Sjaak De Wit, DVM, PhD, at the Animal Health Service, Deventer, the Netherlands.

“We vaccinated specific-pathogen-free birds with Ma5 at one day of age and with 4/91 at 14 days of age, then challenged birds with the US Arkansas or Georgia 98 IB strains,” he continued.

Five days after challenge, birds that had received both the Ma5 and 4/91 vaccines had about 90 per cent protection against the Arkansas IB challenge, and there was 86 per cent protection against challenge with the Georgia 98 strain, which is a Delaware-type virus, he said (Table 1).

Table 1. Results in vaccinates and controls after challenge with iB viruses
Vaccination Challenge virus Number of birds per group Average protection level against ciliostasis
Day of hatch Day 14 of age
Unvaccinated, unchallenged controls - - 5 100%
Unvaccinated, challenged controls - ArkDPI/81 10 24%
Ma5 - ArkDPI/81 10 90% (weak challenge)
Ma5 4/91 ArkDPI/81 10 90%
Unvaccinated, challenged controls - GA98/0470/98 10 0%
Ma5 - GA98/0470/98 10 37%
Ma5 4/91 GA98/0470/98 10 86%

In birds vaccinated only with Ma5, protection against the Arkansas IB challenge was also determined to be about 90 per cent; this was higher than expected but as it turned out, the challenge was weaker than intended. As expected, protection against the Georgia 98 IB challenge was only about 37 per cent in birds that received only Ma5, Dr Jackwood continued.

Protection was determined by scoring ciliary activity in the tracheal epithelium, he noted.

Delaware 072?

"Five days after challenge, birds that had received both the Ma5 and 4/91 vaccines had about 90 per cent protection."
Dr Mark Jackwood

For the US market, Dr Jackwood and colleagues are going to try substituting IB 4/91 with the Delaware 072 IB strain because it is distinct and may provide a broader set of antibodies. The studies are underway and Dr Jackwood hopes to have data to share in the near future.

He explained that this work involves determining genetic similarities between viruses, particularly regarding a spike protein on the outside of viruses, and virus neutralisation testing.

He said: “The spike protein is the one that induces neutralising antibodies. If we get an amino acid sequence similarity between spike genes in the high-80 per cent or low-90 per cent range, there will usually be some cross-protection.”

The researchers are also carefully examining the significance of ciliostatis scores and want to find out if protection against ciliostasis correlates with protection in the field.

“We know it does in Europe; we want to see if the same holds true here with US IB viruses,” he said.

Dr Jackwood is confident that progress can be made.

In an interview, he said: “We already have a lot of really good vaccines available to us. I think that we can do a better job of actually applying those vaccines and getting a little broader protection using a protocol involving Protectotype.”

Further Reading

- Find out more information on infectious bronchitis by clicking here.

May 2012
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