In the last decade, monitoring Marek's disease (MD) vaccination by real-time PCR has become a common practice. Evaluating in vivo replication of MD vaccines in the feather pulp (FP) at 7 days of age provides information on how well a flock has been vaccinated. Factors such as vaccine dose, combination with other vaccines, age and route of vaccination, and the origin of the vaccine can influence the results and need to be taken into consideration. Early infection with oncogenic MD virus (MDV) could also affect how vaccines replicate in the first week and therefore might influence the results. The objective of this study was to evaluate if coinfection with oncogenic MDV could affect MD vaccine DNA viral load in the FP at 7 days of age. A retrospective study was done using data from nine animal experiments (46 treatment groups) in which chickens were vaccinated against MD either in ovo or at 1 day of age and challenged with various oncogenic strains at 1 day of age by contact. In each experiment, vaccinated but not challenged groups were used as controls. Replication of MD vaccine was evaluated in samples of FP collected at 7 days of age by real-time PCR, and percentage of positives and vaccine load were analyzed. Our results show that CVI-988 (13 treatment groups), SB-1 (six treatment groups), and in most cases turkey herpesvirus (HVT; 24 out of 27 treatment groups) replication was not affected by early infection with oncogenic MDV. There were three treatment groups in which HVT replication differed between challenged and unchallenged chickens, however the effect was not clear; replication of HVT in nonchallenged chickens was higher (one treatment group) or lower (two treatment groups) than in challenged chickens and factors other than coinfection with MDV might have contributed to such differences.
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Vol. 66 • No. 1