The swift evolution rate of avian influenza (AI) H5N1 virus demands constant efforts to update inactivated vaccines to match antigenically with the emerging new field virus strains. Recently, a recombinant turkey herpesvirus (rHVT)-AI vaccine, rHVT-H5, expressing the HA gene of a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 clade 2.2 A/Swan/Hungary/499/ 2006 strain inserted into FC-126 strain of HVT vector, has been developed to combat current threats in poultry industry. Here, we present the results of two trials where rHVT-H5 was tested alone or in combination with inactivated H5N1 vaccines (the latter vaccines contained antigens produced by using a clade 2.1.3 HPAI H5N1 virus [A/Ck/WestJava-Nagrak/2007] in the first trial or mixture of antigen produced by strain A/Ck/WestJava-Nagrak/2007 and A/Ck/Banten-Tangerang/2010 [bivalent vaccine] for second trial) in broiler chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) carrying maternally derived antibodies to H5N1 and then challenged with Indonesian HPAI H5N1 field isolates. The effectiveness of vaccination was evaluated on the basis of clinical protection (morbidity and mortality) and measurement of virus shedding after challenge. Immune response to vaccination was followed by serology. In the first experiment, chickens were vaccinated at the day of hatch with rHVT-H5 alone (Group 1) or combined with inactivated vaccine at day old (Group 2) or at 10 days of age (Group 3). The chickens along with nonvaccinated hatch-mates were challenged at 28 days of age with the HPAI H5N1 field isolate dade 2.1.3 A/Chicken/WestJava-Subang/29/2007. Eighty, 100%, and 80% clinical protection was recorded in Group 1, 2, and 3, respectively. A similar experiment was performed a second time, but the chicks in Group 3 received the inactivated vaccine earlier, at 7 days of age. Challenge was performed at 28 days of age using a different H5N1 isolate, clade 2.1.3 A/Ck/Purwakarta-Cilingga/142/10. Clinical protection achieved in the second trial was 95%, 75%, and 90% in Group 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Shedding of challenge virus was significantly lower in the vaccinated groups compared with controls in both experiments. Vaccinated birds developed hemagglutination inhibition antibody response to H5N1 by the time of challenge. These experiments confirmed that the rHVT-H5 vaccine applied alone or in combination with inactivated H5N1 vaccines could provide high level (> 80%) clinical protection against divergent HPAI H5N1 field isolates after single immunization by 4 wk of age and a significant reduction in the excretion of challenge virus.
Publish in Avian Dis 2012 Dec; 56(4 Suppl):923-927.