Imperfect Vaccination Can Enhance the Transmission of Highly Virulent Pathogens
A novel syndrome was observed after inoculation of 3-wk-old chickens with highly virulent Marek's disease virus (MDV) strains. This syndrome was characterized by the acute onset of neurologic signs including flaccid paralysis of neck and limbs 9-10 days postinoculation, typically resulting in death 1-3 days after the onset of clinical signs. Most affected birds died, and spontaneous recovery was rare. Few if any gross tissue changes were found. Histologic brain lesions included acute vasculitis with vasogenic edema and perivascular cuffing. The syndrome was influenced by the virus strain and dose and by chicken strain and B haplotype and was prevented by vaccination with turkey herpesvirus. Chickens up to 18 wk of age were susceptible. On the basis of clinical signs and histopathology, the syndrome was determined to be an acute form of transient paralysis (TP); its more acute nature and virtual lack of spontaneous recovery differentiated this syndrome from classical TP. Affected birds were viremic, and brains were positive for viral DNA by polymerase chain reaction assays, but these tests were also positive in inoculated chickens without clinical signs and may have limited value for diagnosis. Although acute TP should occur only rarely in Marek's disease-vaccinated commercial flocks, this syndrome may be important in laboratory studies, where it could interfere with pathogenesis trials. Finally, acute TP appears to be one component in the pathogenesis of the early mortality syndrome, a previously described immunodepressive disease induced by inoculation of 1-day-old chicks with highly virulent MDV.