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Comparative susceptibility of chickens, turkeys and ducks to infectious bursal disease virus using immunohistochemistry

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Twenty chicks, 12 turkey poults and 10 ducklings, all 5 weeks old were infected with 2 × 103.5 chick LD50 IBD virus to determine the course of the virus in the 3 poultry species. Uninfected control birds were kept separately. Two infected and 2 control birds/species were euthanized at time intervals between 3 and 168 hours post infection (pi). Sections of thymus, bursa of Fabricius, spleen, liver, kidney, proventriculus and ceacal tonsil were stained for the detection of IBD virus antigen using immunoperoxidase technique. IBD virus antigen positive cells stained reddish-brown and the amount of such cells in tissue sections were noted and scored. Stained cells were present in all organs examined for up to 168 hours pi in the 3 poultry species except ceacal tonsils of ducks at 72 and 120 hours pi. Antigen score was highest in chickens and least in ducks as reflected by average of total scores/sampling time of 12, 10.8 and 8 in chickens, turkeys and ducks respectively. Total antigen score/sampling time in infected chickens peaked twice; 24/48 and 144 hours pi, whereas such bi-phasic peaks were absent in turkeys and ducks. Range of total antigen score at different sampling times was 7–17.5 in chickens, 10–13 in turkeys and 7–10 in ducks indicative of marked viral replication in chickens. Presence of IBD viral antigen in organs of all 3 poultry species is indicative of infections. The innate ability of turkeys and ducks to prevent appreciable replication of IBD virus after infection requires further investigation.

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Infectious bursal disease


Infectious bursal disease virus

LD 50 :

Lethal dose 50


3,3’ diaminobenzidine


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We would like to thank Dr. Femi Obateru for generously donating the immunoperoxidase kits used for this work and the management of Nucryst Pharmaceutical Company, Wakefield, MA, USA for access to photomicrography facility.

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Correspondence to O. A. Oladele.

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Oladele, O.A., Adene, D.F., Obi, T.U. et al. Comparative susceptibility of chickens, turkeys and ducks to infectious bursal disease virus using immunohistochemistry. Vet Res Commun 33, 111–121 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11259-008-9078-2

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  • Infectious bursal disease
  • Differential susceptibility
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Duck