A study was designed to ascertain the influence of in ovo site of inoculation and embryonic fluid type on the development of Marek's disease (MD) vaccine viremia and efficacy against MD challenge. The experiments were divided into in vitro and in vivo phases. In the in vitro phase, herpesvirus of turkeys/SB-1 vaccine was combined with basal medium eagle (BME) medium (control), amniotic fluid, or allantoic fluid and subsequently titrated on secondary chick embryo fibroblast cultures. There were no significant differences in titer between the virus inoculum carried in BME and the virus inoculum combined with either the allantoic fluid or the amniotic fluid. In the in vivo phase, five routes of inoculation, amniotic, intraembryonic, allantoic, air cell, and subcutaneous at hatch, were compared for generation of protection against virulent MD challenge. Comparisons were made in both specific-pathogen-free and commercial broiler embryos/chicks and, for the amniotic and allantoic routes, injection at either day 17 or day 18 of embryonation. Reisolation of the vaccine virus at day 3 of age was also done for all routes with the exception of the air cell route. Vaccine virus was recovered from all birds tested that were injected in ovo via the amniotic and intraembryonic routes and the subcutaneously at hatch route but was isolated only sporadically from birds inoculated via the allantoic route. Vaccination protective efficacy against virulent MD for all birds vaccinated in ovo via the amniotic or intraembryonic routes and birds vaccinated subcutaneously at hatch was over 90% regardless of day of in ovo injection or bird type. Protective efficacy for vaccines delivered in ovo by either the allantoic or the air cell routes was less than 50% regardless of day of injection or bird type. Therefore, in ovo MD vaccines must be injected either via the amniotic route or the intraembryonic route for optimal performance.
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