© 2016 Elsevier Ltd The extreme variability and rapid evolution of Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) has always represented the key challenge for its control because of the limited cross-protection among different strains. Several experimental trials have proven a broadening of the protection spectrum when animals are vaccinated with multiple genotypes. Nevertheless, the conditions of vaccine administration in field are so different that the generalization of experimental results is, at least, questionable. In the present study a large scale epidemiological-phylodynamic approach was used to reconstruct the demographic history of the major field genotype (i.e. the QX one) circulating in Italy and Spain. These two countries were selected because, even if they share a comparable epidemiological scenario, the implemented vaccination protocols did not vary in Spain while changed dramatically in Italy over the time period considered. One hundred and ninety-five Italian and 98 Spanish non-recombinant sequences of the hyper-variable region of the S1 gene obtained between 2012 and 2016 were analyzed using a serial coalescent-based approach to reconstruct viral population history over time. While the IBV QX population dynamics remained constant in Spain, a much more complex pattern was evidenced in Italy; both in terms of viral population size and clinical outbreak frequency. Remarkably, a strong association with changes in vaccination strategies was recognized. This allowed demonstrating, by accomplishing all Hill's criteria for causation, the cause-effect relationship between the vaccine administration/withdrawal and the variation in viral population dynamics and, above all, IBV related outbreaks. Thus, a robust confirmation about the efficacy of IBV vaccination in field conditions was provided. Additionally, the history herein reported testifies the primary importance of rigorously planning not only the intervention strategies but also their monitoring and evaluation.
- Infectious bronchitis virus
- Vaccination strategies