Vaccination of chickens with live oocysts has become a more widely used method for controlling avian coccidiosis as resistance to anticoccidial medication increases. However, some coccidia strains are not useful in multispecies vaccines because antigenic variation has made them generally less protective. In order to experimentally test a number of strains for the best cross protection, we have devised an evaluation method using four independently measured variables: weight gain, lesion score, plasma carotenoids, and plasma NO2− NO3−. These values, when measured at 6 days postchallenge, tend to be significantly correlated. A protective index (PX) is calculated for each chicken using the following algorithm: PX = (Ngain Ncarotenoids) − (Nsqrls N[NO2− NO3−]), where the prefix N indicates values for a variable normalized against a mean of that variable from a control group. Nsqrls values are normalized values of the square roots of lesion scores. The PX can then be treated as a dependent variable. In this study, mean PX values of unchallenged groups cluster around 0. Mean PX values of protected chickens are statistically close to those from unchallenged groups, whereas unprotected chickens have highly negative mean PX values.
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Vol. 48 • No. 2