2016 - 2021

Development of an immune complex vaccine to control variant infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) infections in the broiler chicken industry in Canada

Principal Investigator: Susantha Gomis, University of Saskatchewan
Co-investigator: Suresh Tikoo, University of Saskatchewan, Davor Ojkic, University of Guelph
Status: In progress


  • Vaccination of broiler breeders with “variant” NC 171 “like” (NC-L) live and inactivated virus;
  • Challenge of broiler progeny with NC-L and other “variant” IBDVs isolated from the Canadian broiler chicken industry;
  • Development of an NC-L immune complex Vaccine to immunize broiler breeders and broilers.


Infectious Bursal Disease Virus (IBDV) causes IBD, a major immunosuppressive disease among young chickens. Immunosuppressive agents such as IBDV can decrease flock performance, contribute to secondary infections and increase the incidence of carcass condemnations. The most severe consequence of an IBDV infection is the functional impairment of the bursa of Fabricius (BF), a specialized organ necessary for B cell development in birds (part of the immune system). IBDV is very resistant to most disinfectants and environmental factors and persists for months in contaminated barns, water, feed and droppings. Infectious bursal disease (IBD) is one of the most important avian-acquired immunosuppressive diseases, and has led to significant economic losses to the poultry industry worldwide. Subtypes of IBDV infections that occur in broilers from parents immunized with vaccines containing “standard or classic” IBDV strains are designated as “variants”. This research responds directly to the urgent need to develop a novel vaccine to control “variant” IBDV. This vaccine will improve the poultry industry’s competitiveness, food safety and poultry health. Overall, this research will minimize secondary bacterial infections, poor weight gain, high FCR, increased mortality, which will improve the competitiveness and profitability of the Canadian poultry industry.


$680,000 (CPRC $50,000, Chicken Farmers of Saskatchewan $120,000, NSERC $340,000, Saskatchewan Poultry Extension Program $170,000 (in-kind))

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