A study was performed in 2007 to isolate and characterize infectious bursal disease viruses (IBDVs) in commercial broilers grown in the Delmarva (DMV) Peninsula region of the United States. Bursae of Fabricius were collected weekly from 1 to 4 wk of age from broilers on 10 farms with a history of poor performance. Microscopic pathology was used to determine the infectious bursal disease (IBD) status of the broilers. Bursae from 1- and 2-wk-old broilers did not show IBD microscopic lesions. Moreover, broilers on 1 of the 10 farms were IBD lesion free at 3 and 4 wk of age. However, 3 of 9 and 9 of 9 farms yielded broilers with IBD-affected bursae from 3- and 4-wk-old commercial broilers, respectively. Ten IBDV isolates were recovered from 3 of 3 lesion-positive bursal pools at 3 wk of age and 7 of 9 lesion-positive bursal pools at 4 wk of age. Analysis of the viral protein (VP) 2 genes identified all isolates as serotype 1 Delaware (Del) variant viruses. Five field isolates, each representing different molecular clades of the Delaware variant viruses, were selected for further study. Experimental infection of specific-pathogen-free white leghorn chickens with isolates DMV/4813/07, DMV/4947/07, DMV/4955/07, DMV/5038/07, and DMV/5041/07 produced gross and microscopic pathology of the bursa consistent with Delaware variant infection. Monoclonal antibody testing showed DMV/4813/07, DMV/4947/07, DMV/4955/07, and DMV/5041/07 to be similar to previous recognized variant viruses. However, DMV/5038/07 was found to be unreactive with the monoclonal antibodies that typically recognize reference strains STC, Del E, GLS, RS593, and AL2. In a challenge of immunity study, 10-day-old progeny from breeders immunized with a commercially available inactivated IBDV vaccine containing the Del E and classic strains were protected to a lesser degree against isolate DMV/5038/07 compared to Del E challenge based on microscopic lesion scores (P < 0.01) of the bursa. This result suggests the virus is antigenically different from the Del E strain contained in the vaccine. Collectively, the monoclonal antibody and progeny challenge of immunity findings suggest DMV/5038/07 is antigenically different from the Del E strain contained in the vaccine.
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Vol. 56 • No. 1