The complexity of parasites and their life cycles makes vaccination against parasitic diseases challenging. This review highlights this by discussing vaccination against four relevant parasites of poultry. Coccidia, i.e., Eimeria spp., are the most important parasites in poultry production, causing multiple billions of dollars of damage worldwide. Due to the trend of antibiotic-free broiler production, use of anticoccidia vaccines in broilers is becoming much more important. As of now, only live vaccines are on the market, almost all of which must be produced in birds. In addition, these live vaccines require extra care in the management of flocks to provide adequate protection and prevent the vaccines from causing damage. Considerable efforts to develop recombinant vaccines and related work to understand the immune response against coccidia have not yet resulted in an alternative. Leucozytozoon caulleryi is a blood parasite that is prevalent in East and South Asia. It is the only poultry parasite for which a recombinant vaccine has been developed and brought to market. Histomonas meleagridis causes typhlohepatitis in chickens and turkeys. The systemic immune response after intramuscular vaccination with inactivated parasites is not protective. The parasite can be grown and attenuated in vitro, but only together with bacteria. This and the necessary intracloacal application make the use of live vaccines difficult. So far, there have been no attempts to develop a recombinant vaccine against H. meleagridis. Inactivated vaccines inducing antibodies against the poultry red mite Dermanyssus gallinae have the potential to control infestations with this parasite. Potential antigens for recombinant vaccines have been identified, but the use of whole-mite extracts yields superior results. In conclusion, while every parasite is unique, development of vaccines against them shares common problems, namely the difficulties of propagating them in vitro and the identification of protective antigens that might be used in recombinant vaccines.

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