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Marek's Disease Virus is not Ubiquitous

by 5m Editor
23 January 2009, at 8:59am

AUSTRALIA - Research to improve diagnostics and disease control with molecular biology is yielding practical results for producers. Scientists at Poultry CRC say that Marek's disease can be controlled by tactical vaccination and good biosecurity.


Professor Steve Walkden-Brown

Contrary to earlier theory, Marek's Disease Virus (MDV) is not found in all places. In parts of Tamworth in Northern New South Wales, for example, MDV cannot be detected using the DNA-based test of poultry shed dust.

According to Professor Steve Walken-Brown, who led the Poultry CRC's successful project on 'Improved diagnostics and disease surveillance through the application of molecular biotechnology', "MDV is not ubiquitous. This means that, in Australia, it's possible to vaccinate tactically by keeping tabs on the virus and only vaccinating in summer/autumn when the disease is more prevalent."

"Even if your neighbours' farms have the disease, it's possible to reduce the risk to your farm through good biosecurity; principally by providing visitors with cheap, disposable overalls and footwear. There are no guarantees but a few simple steps can help reduce the likelihood that your flock will become infected if the virus has not been detected on your farm and you've chosen not to vaccinate," said Professor Walkden-Brown.

At present, it is impossible to distinguish the Rispens vaccine from dangerous wild-type virus. However, this will become possible as Professor Walkden-Brown's team is currently working on a new test with funding from RIRDC.

"Once we've developed the new test," he explains, "we'll be able to properly assess the spread of the Rispens vaccine across Australia and obtain a better understanding of the extent of wild-type virus."

Further Reading

- Find out more information on Marek's disease by clicking here.