Italian Field Survey Reveals a High Diffusion of Avian Metapneumovirus Subtype B in Layers and Weaknesses in the Vaccination Strategy Applied
SUMMARY. The current information on the prevalence of avian metapneumovirus (aMPV) infection in layers is fragmentary and its true impact on egg production often remains unknown or unclear. In order to draw an epidemiologic picture of aMPV presence in layer flocks in Italy, a survey was performed on 19 flocks of pullets and layers based on longitudinal studies or sporadic samplings. aMPV was detected by reverse transcription (RT)-PCR, and blood samples were collected for serology by aMPV ELISA. Occurrences of respiratory signs and a drop in egg production were recorded. Possible involvement of infectious bronchitis (IB) and egg drop syndrome (EDS) viruses that could have caused loss of egg production we ruled out for IB virus by RT-PCR, and EDS virus was ruled out by hemagglutination-inhibition (HI). Only subtype B of aMPV was found in both pullet and layer farms. Surveys of pullets showed that most groups became infected prior to the onset of lay without showing clear respiratory signs. At the point of l...