Chasing the golden egg: Vaccination against poultry coccidiosis

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Journal Article
Parasite Immunology, 2010, 32 (8), pp. 590 - 598
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P>Eimeria species, of the Phylum Apicomplexa, cause the disease coccidiosis in poultry, resulting in severe economic losses every year. Transmission of the disease is via the faecal-oral route, and is facilitated by intensive rearing conditions in the poultry industry. Additionally, Eimeria has developed drug resistance against most anticoccidials used today, which, along with the public demand for chemical free meat, has lead to the requirement for an effective vaccine strategy. This review focuses on the history and current status of anticoccidial vaccines, and our work in developing the transmission-blocking vaccine, CoxAbic (R) (Netanya, Israel). The vaccine is composed of affinity-purified antigens from the wall-forming bodies of macrogametocytes of Eimeria maxima, which are proteolytically processed and cross-linked via tyrosine residues to form the environmentally resistant oocyst wall. The vaccine is delivered via maternal immunization, where vaccination of laying hens leads to protection of broiler offspring. It has been extensively tested for efficacy and safety in field trials conducted in five countries and involving over 60 million offspring chickens from immunized hens and is currently the only subunit vaccine against any protozoan parasite to reach the marketplace.
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