Reversion to virulence of a subtype B avian metapneumovirus vaccine: Is it time for regulators to require availability of vaccine progenitors?
Abstract Empirically derived live avian metapneumovirus (AMPV) vaccines developed during the late 80s and early 90s have generally performed well in controlling turkey rhinotracheitis. Nonetheless, unstable attenuation was previously demonstrated in an AMPV subtype A vaccine. Until now this had not been investigated in subtype B vaccines due to lack of any similar availability of a vaccine progenitor or its sequence. The publication of the full genome sequence for the VCO3 vaccine progenitor facilitated a conclusive investigation of two AMPVs isolated from poults on a farm which had been vaccinated with VCO3 derived vaccine. Full genome sequencing of the isolates and their comparison to sequences of the vaccine and its progenitor, confirmed their vaccine origin. After determining the absence of extraneous infectious agents, one of these virus isolates was inoculated into 1-day-old turkeys in disease secure isolators and shown to cause disease with a severity similar to that caused by virulent field virus. This suggests that instability in live AMPV vaccines may be generalized and highlights the need for availability of vaccine progenitor sequences for the field assessment of all live viral vaccines.