To determine the Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) rapid serum plate agglutination (RSPA) test response of broiler breeders after ts-11 strain vaccination, 55 Cobb pullets derived from a nonvaccinated, MG-negative, commercial, broiler breeder grandparent flock were monitored from 8 to 20 wk of age (over a 12-wk trial period). To evaluate the effect of lateral spread of the ts-11 vaccine strain on RSPA test results from commingled and adjacently penned birds, treatment groups included (A) birds vaccinated with ts-11strain MG at 8 wk of age, (B) commingled nonvaccinates in the same pen as the vaccinated birds, (C) nonvaccinates in a second pen separated from the first pen by a distance of 2 m, and (D) birds vaccinated with ts-11 strain MG at 8 wk of age and kept in a separate room. Rapid serum plate agglutination tests were performed once a week for 6 wk and then every 2 wk for 6 more wk, postvaccination. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay specific for ts-11 strain MG was used to confirm vaccination, and a second PCR specific for non-ts-11 strain MG was used to confirm the absence of field infection. Seroconversion was first detected by the RSPA test 2 wk postvaccination and attained maximum positive rates of 58% at 12 wk postvaccination in treatment A and 60% at 8 wk postvaccination in treatment D. Seroconversion rates in nonvaccinated, commingled pullets was 10% at 5 wk and 30% at 12 wk after the vaccination of pen mates. The ts-11-specific PCR detected the vaccine strain in 80%–100% of the vaccinated birds 2 wk after vaccination. One of 15 nonvaccinated birds penned 2 m from vaccinated birds yielded ts-11 by PCR assay 12 wk after vaccination, which indicates that the spread of ts-11 over short distances may be possible in situations in which there is a common caretaker. PCR on tracheal swabs taken 12 wk postvaccination detected ts-11 in 50% and 60% of the vaccinated birds in treatments A and D, respectively; in 30% of the commingled nonvaccinates; and in 6.6% of the separately penned nonvaccinates. In contrast, choanal swabs collected from vaccinated birds at 12 wk were 21% and 40% PCR positive for ts-11 strain MG, while those from nonvaccinates were negative. All samples were PCR negative for field strain MG. The pattern of seroconversion as measured by RSPA test in small groups of broiler breeders was different from that previously reported for leghorns. Lateral spread of the ts-11 strain to commingled pen mates occurred rapidly, causing RSPA seroconversion patterns that mimicked those of the vaccinated pen mates.
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Vol. 49 • No. 1