Drop of egg production in chickens by experimental infection with an avian metapneumovirus strain PLE8T1 derived from swollen head syndrome and the application to evaluate vaccine
Decreases in egg production and increased incidence of abnormal eggs due to malformation of egg shells were observed in specific pathogen free (SPF) 173-day-old laying hens inoculated intravenously with an avian metapneumovirus (aMPV) strain PLE8T1. This strain was derived from an isolate from broiler birds exhibiting swollen head syndrome (SHS). Some SPF birds inoculated with the virus showed, slight diarrhea without any respiratory symptoms. Thus, the PLE8T1 strain was used as a challenge virus to evaluate efficacy of aMPV vaccines. SPF chickens which received a live attenuated aMPV vaccine (NEMOVAC; Merial) at 7 or 77 days old and an inactivated aMPV vaccine (OVO-4; Merial) at 105 days old were protected against poor egg production caused by the challenge with the PLE8T1 strain. Thus, aMPV, the PLE8T1 strain passaged 22 times after isolation, from birds exhibiting SHS, could induce a drop in egg production in laying hens accompanied by malformation of egg shells. It was suggested that this challenge system could be applied to evaluate the efficacy of aMPV vaccine.