Immunosuppression can increase the susceptibility of chickens to other disease-causing pathogens and interfere with the efficacy of vaccination against those pathogens. Chicken anaemia virus (CAV) and infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) are common causes of immunosuppression in chickens. Immunosuppression was induced by experimental infection with either CAV or IBDV to assess the effect of immunosuppression on the efficacy of vaccination with Mycoplasma gallisepticum strain ts-304 against infection with virulent M. gallisepticum, a common bacterial pathogen of chickens worldwide. Birds were experimentally infected with either CAV or IBDV at 1 week of age, before vaccination and challenge with M. gallisepticum to examine the effect of immunosuppression at the time of vaccination, or at 6 weeks of age, after vaccination against M. gallisepticum but before challenge with virulent M. gallisepticum, to investigate the effect of immunosuppression at the time of challenge. All birds were vaccinated with a single dose of the ts-304 vaccine at 3 weeks of age and experimentally challenged with the virulent M. gallisepticum strain Ap3AS at 8 weeks of age. In immunosuppressed chickens there was a reduction in protection offered by the ts-304 vaccine at two weeks after challenge, as measured by tracheal mucosal thicknesses, serum antibody levels against M. gallisepticum, air sac lesion scores and virulent M. gallisepticum load in the trachea. Immunosuppressed birds with detectable serum antibodies against M. gallisepticum were less likely to have tracheal lesions. This study has shown that immunosuppression caused by infection with CAV or IBDV can interfere with vaccination against mycoplasmosis in chickens.
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