Embryonally bursectomised and nonbursectomised chickens were infected with infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) at 36 days of age. Neither clinical signs nor gross lesions were observed in the infected, bursectomised (IB) chickens. No significant changes were observed in carcass, thymus or spleen weights of IB and noninfected bursectomised chickens. A mild lymphocytic necrosis and depletion were found in the spleen, thymus and caecal tonsil of the IB chickens. Neither precipitating nor serum neutralising antibodies were detected in the sera but IBDV was reisolated from the spleen and thymus. Infected, nonbursectomised (IN) chickens developed severe depression with diarrhoea and high mortalities. Haemorrhages were found in the muscles of the breast and thigh, proventriculus and intestines. Significant changes were observed between the carcass, thymus and bursa weights of the IN and noninfected, nonbursectomised chickens. There was severe lymphatic necrosis of the bursa, thymus, spleen and caecal tonsil. Both precipitating and neutralising antibodies were detected in the sera and the virus was reisolated from the bursa, thymus and spleen. It is concluded that the bursa of Fabricius is not essential for the establishment of an IBDV infection but is required for the clinical infection.
Avian Pathology 08/1990; 19(3):555-69. DOI:10.1080/03079459008418708