The chicken major histocompatibility complex (MHC) has been implicated in conferring resistance or susceptibility to several bacterial, parasitic, and viral diseases, the most notable of which is Marek's disease. In Marek's disease certain MHC haplotypes have been shown to confer relative resistance (B21), whereas other haplotypes are susceptible (B13). Relatively little work has been performed looking at the association of the MHC with bacterial diseases. One such disease is cellulitis, which is caused by several different bacteria but most notably by Escherichia coli. In this report, a commercial broiler chicken line known to contain standard B13 and B21, as well as the unique MHC types BA9 and BA12, was examined in a challenge model for cellulitis. The MHC-defined birds were challenged with a cellulitis-causing E. coli isolate and the frequency of lesion development and severity was quantified. In conclusion, B21 had the highest incidence of cellulitis development, B13 had the lowest incidence, and BA9 and BA12 had intermediate results. Results concerning the lesion severity showed that it was independent of the birds' MHC type.

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