We evaluated the pathogenicity of three live Mycoplasma gallisepticum (MG) vaccine candidates by infection via aerosol of 3-wk-old chickens with log phase broth cultures (trial 1). Two of the candidates (K3020 and K4649A) colonized only 10% and 20% of the chickens, respectively, unlike K2101 (K-strain), which was reisolated from all of the vaccinated chickens tested. K-strain inoculation did not result in significant air sac or tracheal lesions in chickens at 10 and 39 days postinfection (P ≤ 0.05). The efficacy of K-strain as a live vaccine was evaluated in trial 2, by challenge of vaccinated chickens with virulent R-strain via aerosol at 6 wk postvaccination. K-strain vaccination resulted in significant protection from air sac and tracheal lesions (P ≤ 0.05). The K-strain was further investigated to evaluate transmissibility (trial 3), colonization and persistence of infection following aerosol administration (trial 4), genetic and phenotypic stability following back passage through chickens (trial 5), and vertical transmission (trial 6). The K-strain had a low rate of horizontal transmission; it remained primarily in the respiratory system of inoculated birds and persisted in the upper respiratory tract for the duration of the trial 4 (5 mo). There was no increase in virulence of K-strain when it was back passaged five times through chickens, and no vertical transmission of K-strain was detected. K-strain showed great potential as a safe and effective live MG vaccine.
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Vol. 56 • No. 1