Herpesvirus of turkeys (HVT) has been successfully used as a Marek's disease (MD) vaccine for more than 40 yr. Either alone (broiler chickens) or in combination with vaccines of other serotypes (broilers, broiler breeders, and layers), HVT is used worldwide. In recent years, several vector vaccines based on HVT (rHVT) have been developed. At present, there are both conventional HVT and rHVTs in the market, and it is unknown if all of them confer the same level of protection against MD. The objective of this study was to further characterize the protection conferred by two conventional HVTs (HVT-A and HVT-B) and three recombinant HVTs (rHVT-B, rHVT-C, and rHVT-D) against MD in broiler chickens. In a first study we evaluated the efficacy of two conventional HVTs (HVT-A and HVT-B) administered at different doses (475, 1500, and 4000 PFU) at day of age on the ability to protect against an early challenge with very virulent plus strain 645. In a second experiment we evaluated the protection ability of several HVTs (both conventional and recombinant) when administered in ovo at a dose of 1500 PFU using the same challenge model. Our results show that each HVT product is unique, regardless of being conventional or recombinant, in their ability to protect against MD and might require different PFUs to achieve its maximum efficacy. In Experiment 1, HVT-A at 4000 PFU conferred higher protection (protection index [PI] = 63) than any of the other vaccine protocols (PI ranging from 36 to 47). In Experiment 2, significant differences were found among vaccine protocols with PI varying from 66 (HVT-A) to 15 (rHVT-D). Our results show that each HVT is unique and age at vaccination and vaccine dose greatly affected vaccine efficacy. Furthermore, they highlight the need of following manufacturer's recommendations.
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Vol. 60 • No. 3