SUMMARY

Marek's disease (MD) is a lymphoproliferative disease of domestic chickens caused by a highly infectious, oncogenic α-herpesvirus known as Marek's disease virus (MDV). MD is presently controlled by vaccination. Current MD vaccines include attenuated serotype 1 strains (e.g., CVI988/Rispens), avirulent serotype 2 (SB-1), and serotype 3 (HVT) MDV strains. In addition, recombinant MDV strains have been developed as potential new and more efficient vaccines to sustain the success of MD control in poultry. One of the candidate recombinant MDV strains, named rMd5ΔMeq, was derived from Md5, a very virulent strain of MDV lacking the MDV oncogene Meq. Our earlier reports suggest that rMd5ΔMeq provided protection equally well or better than commonly used MD vaccines in experimental and commercial lines of chickens challenged with very virulent plus (vv+) strains of MDV. In this study, maternal antibody-positive (trial 1) and negative (trial 2) chickens from a series of relatively MD resistant lines were either vaccinated with the rMd5ΔMeq or CVI988/Rispens followed by infection of a vv+ strain of MDV, 648A, passage 10. This report presents experimental evidence that the rMd5ΔMeq protected significantly better than the CVI988/Rispens (P < 0.01) in the relatively resistant experimental lines of chickens challenged with the vv+ strain of MDV. Together with early reports, the rMd5ΔMeq appeared to provide better protection, comparing with the most efficacious commercially available vaccine, CVI988/Rispens, for control of MD in lines of chickens regardless of their genetic background.

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