The option of vaccinating poultry against avian influenza (AI) as a control tool is gaining greater acceptance by governments and the poultry industry worldwide. One disadvantage about vaccination with killed whole-virus vaccines is the resulting inability to use common serologic diagnostic tests for surveillance to identify infected flocks. There has been considerable effort to develop a reliable test for the differentiation of infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA). The heterologous neuraminidase (NA) subtype DIVA approach has been used with some success in the field accompanied by an ad hoc serologic test. The traditional NA inhibition (NI) test can be used for all nine NA subtypes, but it is time consuming, and it is not designed to screen large numbers of samples. In this study, a quantitative NI test using MUN (2′-[4-methylumbelliferyl]-α-D-Nacetylneuraminic acid sodium salt hydrate) as an NA substrate was investigated as an alternative to the traditional fetuin-based NI test in a heterologous neuraminidase DIVA strategy. Serum NI activity was determined in chickens administered different vaccines containing different H5 and NA subtypes and challenged with a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N2 virus. Prior to challenge, the NI DIVA test clearly discriminated between chickens receiving vaccines containing different antigens (e.g., N8 or N9) from control birds that had no NA antibody. Some birds began to seroconvert 1 wk postchallenge, and 100% of the vaccinated birds had significant levels of N2 NI activity. This activity did not interfere with the presence of vaccine-induced NI activity against N8 or N9 subtypes. The level of N2-specific NI activity continued to increase to the last sampling date, 4 wk postchallenge, indicating the potential use for the heterologous NA-based DIVA strategy in the field.
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Vol. 54 • No. s1