In this study, we examined the association among clinical signs, ciliostasis, virus detection, and histopathology for evaluating protection of vaccinated chickens against homologous and heterologous infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) challenge. At 5 days following challenge with IBV, we found a good correlation among clinical signs, ciliostasis in the trachea, challenge virus detection, and microscopic lesions in the trachea, with all four criteria being negative in fully protected birds and positive in fully susceptible birds. In partially protected birds we observed clinical signs and detected challenge virus; however, the ciliated epithelium was intact. In a second experiment, we challenged fully protected, partially protected, and fully susceptible birds with IBV, and then at 5 days postchallenge we gave the birds an opportunistic bacterium intranasally. Twenty Bordetella avium colonies were recovered from one of five fully protected birds, and only five colonies were isolated from two of five partially protected birds without ciliostasis, whereas in birds with ciliostasis, numerous colonies were isolated. Obviously, decreasing IBV infection and replication in the upper respiratory tract will decrease transmission and mutations, leading to variant viruses, and herein we demonstrate that protection of the cilia will decrease secondary bacterial infections, which have been shown to lead to condemnations and increased mortality. Thus, it appears that examining both criteria would be important when evaluating IBV vaccine efficacy.

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