The Institute for Animal Health
(IAH) and vaccine company Intervet
are developing a vaccine that can be delivered to the birds while they are still in their egg using robotic ‘vaccinators’.
The pre-hatching prototype vaccine virus provides immunity to IBV – the worst infectious disease in terms of economic loss to the UK poultry industry. Infection can lead to severe respiratory disease, dramatically reduce egg production and affect the quality and hatchability of eggs.
The scientists have extracted a so-called spike protein from a pathogenic virus strain which triggers an immune response, and incorporated it into a harmless non-pathogenic strain.
Dr Paul Britton, Head of the Coronavirus Group at IAH Compton
, explained, “This hybrid virus was able to induce immunity when inoculated before hatching. When hatched chicks were exposed to the virulent M41 strain, we observed protection rates of up to 100 percent.”