The Arkansas Delmarva Poultry Industry (ArkDPI) infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) vaccine is effective when administered by eye drop, where the vaccine virus is able to infect and replicate well in birds and is able to induce protection against homologous challenge. However, accumulating evidence indicates that the ArkDPI vaccine is ineffective when applied by hatchery spray cabinet using the same manufacturer-recommended dose per bird. For this study, we aimed to determine the minimum infectious dose for the spray-administered ArkDPI vaccine, which we designate as the dose that achieves the same level of infection and replication as the eye drop-administered ArkDPI vaccine. To this end, we used increasing doses of commercial ArkDPI vaccine to vaccinate 100 commercial broiler chicks at day of hatch, using a commercial hatchery spray cabinet. The choanal cleft of each bird was swabbed at 7 and 10 days postvaccination, and real-time reverse-transcriptase PCR was performed. We observed that the level of infection and replication with spray vaccination matches with that of eye drop vaccination when chicks received 100 times the standard dose for the commercial ArkDPI vaccine. We further examined the S1 spike gene sequence from a subset of reisolated ArkDPI vaccine virus samples and observed that certain nucleotide changes arise in vaccine viruses reisolated from chicks, as previously reported. This suggests that the ArkDPI vaccine has a certain virus subpopulation that, while successful at infecting and replicating in chicks, represents only a minor virus subpopulation in the original vaccine. Thus, the minimum infectious dose for the ArkDPI vaccine using a hatchery spray cabinet appears to be dependent on the amount of this minor subpopulation reaching the chicks.
Keywords: ArkDPI; IBV vaccines; infectious bronchitis virus; minimum infectious dose.