This study evaluates the susceptibility of scaleless mutant chickens to very virulent Marek's disease virus (vvMDV) inoculation. One day old chickens were inoculated subcutaneously with Taiwanese isolates of LTB-1 and LTS-1 strains, and standard strain of Md/5. Compared with the non-inoculated group the vvMDV-inoculated chickens showed decreased body weights and atrophy of lymphoid organs before 35 days old. These results indicate that scaleless chickens show the same susceptibility as the wild type chickens to vvMDV infection. Furthermore, the protective effect of herpesvirus of turkey (HVT) vaccination at 1 day old against vvMDV challenge was evaluated. Scaleless mutant chickens of treated groups showed 20-30% early death, and 85.7-100% and 12.5-14.2% had lymphomatous lesions in visceral organs and peripheral nerves, respectively. No significant lesions were observed in non-challenged chickens of the control group. The HVT vaccination did not provide an effective protection against vvMDV infection. It is concluded that scaleless mutant chickens are susceptible to vvMDV infection.
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