Investigations on the protective role of passively transferred antibodies against avian metapneumovirus infection in turkeys
The avian metapneumovirus (aMPV) is the causative agent of an acute respiratory disease in turkeys, which causes considerable economic losses to the poultry industry. Currently attenuated live and inactivated vaccines are widely used to control the disease, but vaccine breaks are frequently observed. For improvement of current vaccination strategies it is necessary to gain enhanced knowledge of the immune mechanisms against aMPV infection. Field observations suggest that vaccine-induced aMPV-specific antibodies are not indicative for protection. In the present study we investigated the role of antibodies in protection of turkeys against aMPV. In two experiments, commercial turkey poults received aMPV-specific antibodies by intravenous injection. The antibody transfer resulted in increased antibody levels in the sera. Virus-specific antibodies were also detected on mucosal surfaces such as the trachea, conjunctivae and gall bladder. Turkeys were subsequently challenged with a virulent aMPV subtype A strain...