PLoS One 2019 28;14(3):e0213866. Epub 2019 Mar 28.
Asia-Pacific Centre for Animal Health, Melbourne Veterinary School, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.
Infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) is a respiratory disease that affects chickens. It is caused by the alphaherpesvirus, infectious laryngotracheitis virus (ILTV). This virus undergoes lytic replication in the epithelial cells of the trachea and upper respiratory tract (URT) and establishes latent infection in the trigeminal ganglia (TG) and trachea. Live attenuated vaccines are widely used to control ILT. At least one of these vaccines can establish latent infections in chickens, but this has not been demonstrated for all vaccines. The aim of the current study was to determine the capacity of three commercially available vaccines (SA2, A20 and Serva) and a glycoprotein G deletion mutant vaccine candidate (ΔgG ILTV) to establish latent infection in the TG of specific pathogen free (SPF) chickens. Five groups of 7-day-old SPF chickens were eye-drop vaccinated with either one of the vaccine strains or mock-vaccinated with sterile media and followed until 20 or 21 days post-vaccination (dpv). ILTV DNA was detected at 20-21 dpv in the TG of 23/40 (57.5%) vaccinated SPF chickens (SA2 = 10/10; A20 = 6/10; Serva = 3/10; ΔgG = 4/10) by PCR, but virus could not be reactivated from TG co-cultivated with primary chicken embryo kidney cells. In the birds from which ILTV DNA was detected in the TG, ILTV DNA could not be detected in the URT or trachea of 3 birds in each of the SA2, A20 and Serva vaccinated groups, and in 4 birds in the ΔgG vaccinated group, indicating that these birds were latently infected in the absence of active lytic replication and virus shedding. Results from this study demonstrate the capacity of commercial ILTV vaccines to establish latent infections and underline their importance in the epidemiology of this disease.