Infectious bursal disease (IBD) is an acute, highly contagious, economically important disease of young chickens caused by Avibirnavirus, the infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV). The causative virus is highly resilient in poultry environments and vaccination is the most effective measure for IBDV control. However, the susceptibility of highly attenuated IBDV vaccine strains to neutralization by maternally derived antibodies (MDA) and overwhelming virulence of partly attenuated strains have limited the application of conventional live IBDV vaccines in pre- and posthatch chicks. Nevertheless, preliminary data have raised questions about the validity of this prevailing dogma. India is an IBD endemic country and the disease causes sizeable economic losses in the sector. To evaluate the feasibility of application of live IBDV vaccine strain, the IBDV MB-1, to the maternally immunized day-of-hatch chicks in Indian production environment, four large-scale field trials have been conducted. The four trials have measured the relative safety, IBDV immunization parameters, and production performances of MB- 1 vs. the established live and immune complex IBDV vaccines in a variety of commercial broiler systems. The overall health and production performances in all four trials have been better in the MB-1 groups. The results challenge the prevailing notion that live IBDV strains may be neutralized or break through maternal immunity and induce permanent damage to the young broiler chick’s immune response. A delayed replication phenomenon following parenteral administration of the live IBDV vaccine strain has been observed, while the delayed replication mechanism remains to be elucidated. This study warrants further research on the molecular mechanism of live IBDV vaccine strain, MB-1, and its interaction with the chicken immune system.
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