Contrary to earlier theory, Marek’s Disease Virus 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 Steve.
At present it is impossible to distinguish the Rispens vaccine from dangerous wild-type virus. However, this will become possible as Steve’s team are currently working on a new test with funding from RIRDC.
“Once we’ve developed the new test,” explains Steve, “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.”
For more information, contact Steve Walkden-Brown.