Newcastle disease (ND) is still a major poultry disease worldwide. Vaccination remains the principal method of controlling ND in endemic countries. Various vaccination strategies, including the use of recently developed recombinant vaccines, have been used to control it. Recombinant vaccines that use the herpesvirus of turkey (HVT) as a vector to express one of the key antigens of Newcastle disease virus (NDV) have been developed to overcome some of the drawbacks related to the use of conventional vaccines. HVT as a vector appears to have unique beneficial characteristics: it is extremely safe, it is not affected by the presence of maternally derived antibodies, and therefore can be applied in the hatchery either in ovo or to day-old chicks. Due to its persistence in the bird, the HVT vector can be expected to induce life-long immune stimulation. In the present study, the efficacy of an HVT-based vector vaccine expressing the F gene of NDV (rHVT-F) was tested against a velogenic genotype IV NDV challenge in commercial turkeys with high levels of maternal antibodies (8.7 ± 0.8 log2 hemagglutination inhibition titer). The birds were vaccinated on the day of hatch by the subcutaneous route. Development of a humoral immune response to vaccination was detectable from 4 weeks of age by ELISA. The challenge strain used represents recent NDV genotype IV field strains from Morocco. Challenge with this strain induced ND-specific clinical signs and stunting without subsequent mortality in the non-vaccinated birds, whereas the vaccinated turkey poults showed protection as early as 3 weeks of age based on lack of clinical signs, better body weight gain, and reduction of challenge virus shedding. This is the first reported efficacy study of an HVT-vectored ND vaccine against a velogenic NDV challenge in commercial turkeys.
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Vol. 61 • No. 3