Avian influenza subtype H9N2 is endemic in many countries in the Middle East. The reported prevalence of infection was variable between countries and ranged from 28.7% in Tunisia to 71% in Jordan. Several commercial killed whole-virus vaccine products are used as monovalent or bivalent mixed with Newcastle disease virus. Recently, we have noticed that many of the vaccinated broiler flocks did not show a production advantage over nonvaccinated flocks in the field. A new avian influenza field virus (H9N2) was isolated from these vaccinated and infected broiler flocks in 2013. This virus had 89.1% similarity of its hemagglutinin (HA) gene to the classical virus used for manufacturing the classical vaccine. Inactivated autogenous vaccine was manufactured from this new field isolate to investigate its serological response and protection in specific-pathogen-free (SPF) and breeder-male chickens compared to the classical vaccine. Oropharyngeal virus shedding of vaccinated breeder-male chickens was evaluated at 3, 9, 10, and 14 days postchallenge (DPC). Percentage of chickens shedding the virus at 3 DPC was 64%, 50%, and 64% in the classical vaccine group, autogenous vaccine group, and the control challenged group, respectively. At 7 DPC percentage of virus shedding was 42%, 7%, and 64% in the classical vaccine group, autogenous vaccine group, and the control challenged group, respectively. At 10 DPC only 9% of classical vaccine group was shedding the virus and there was no virus shedding in any of the groups at 14 DPC. There was statistical significance difference (P < 0.05) in shedding only at 7 DPC between the autogenous vaccine group and the other two groups. At 42 days of age (14 DPC), average body weight was 2.720, 2.745, 2.290, and 2.760 kg for the classical vaccine group, autogenous vaccine group, control challenged group, and control unchallenged group, respectively. Only the control challenged group had significantly (P < 0.05) lower average body weight. In another experiment, vaccinated SPF chicks had hemagglutination inhibition (HI) geometric mean titers (GMTs), with classical antigen, of 8.7 and 3.1 log 2 for classical and autogenous vaccine groups, respectively. When the autogenous antigen was used for HI, GMTs were 6.0 and 8.1 log 2, respectively. Both vaccines protected against body weight suppression after challenge. However, autogenous vaccine elicited significantly higher HI titer and reduced viral shedding at 7 DPC. In conclusion, it is important to revise the vaccine virus strains used in each region to protect against and control infection from new field strains. Further field experiments are needed to demonstrate the efficacy of new vaccines under field conditions.
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Vol. 60 • No. 1s