Minnesota is the leading state in number of turkeys produced in the United States. Turkey flocks in the field are usually vaccinated several times with live avian orthoavulavirus 1 (AOAV-1) vaccines starting as early as 2 wk of age (WOA). During the years 2018–2019, many turkey flocks were diagnosed with low-virulence AOAV-1 infection around 9 WOA that led to respiratory disease, although they were previously vaccinated. This study was designed to investigate the immunity against AOAV-1 in Minnesota turkey flocks in the field and experimentally after vaccination. We reviewed antibody titers against AOAV-1 from turkey flocks tested by ELISA at Minnesota Poultry Testing Laboratory (n = 1292). Up to 9 WOA, more than 85% of the field flocks tested had unprotective antibody titers against AOAV-1. However, commercial poults at 3 WOA experimentally vaccinated by eye-drop method had an ELISA geometric mean titer of 6011 at 7 WOA. Oropharyngeal virus shedding after vaccination was 10%, 70%, 80%, and 40% at 1, 3, 5, and 7 days postvaccination, respectively. This study demonstrates that experimentally vaccinated turkeys respond very well to AOAV-1 vaccine when properly administered. However, there is clear vaccination failure in the field, where vaccine is commonly administered in drinking water, a method that is more susceptible to failure because of many variables in this procedure. We recommend choosing the most effective method of vaccine administration. Given the high incidence of inadequate immunity induced in commercial turkeys on mass application of live AOAV-1 vaccines in water, alternative application methods and subsequent monitoring of the serologic antibody response must be undertaken to ensure a proper immune response.
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Vol. 65 • No. 1