The objective of this study was to compare the efficacy of two avian influenza (AI) H5-inactivated vaccines containing either an American (A/turkey/Wisconsin/68 H5N9; H5N9-WI) or a Eurasian isolate (A/chicken/Italy/22A/98 H5N9; H5N9-It). Three-week-old specific pathogen-free chickens were vaccinated once and challenged 3 wk later with a H5N1 highly pathogenic AI (HPAI) virus isolated from a chicken in Thailand in 2004. All unvaccinated challenged birds died within 2 days, whereas 90% and 100% of chickens vaccinated with H5N9-WI and H5N9-It, respectively, were protected against morbidity and mortality. Both vaccines prevented cloacal shedding and significantly reduced oral shedding of the challenge HPAI virus. Additional chickens (vaccinated or unvaccinated) were placed in contact with the directly challenged birds 18 hr after challenge. All unvaccinated chickens in contact with unvaccinated challenged birds died within 3 days after contact, whereas unvaccinated chickens in contact with vaccinated challenged birds either showed a significantly delayed mortality or did not become infected. All vaccinated contacts were protected against clinical signs, and most chickens did not shed detectable amount of HPAI virus. Altogether, these data indicate that both vaccines protected very well against morbidity and mortality and reduced or prevented shedding induced by direct or contact exposure to Asian H5N1 HPAI virus.
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