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Investigation of Natural Disease Outbreaks in Poultry

Thayer, Stephan
University of Georgia
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The objective of this study is to investigate natural disease outbreaks through the use of clinical observation, disease history, gross and microscopic pathology, serology, microbiology, virus isolation and molecular diagnostic techniques. The study often leads to field trial studies and/or applied research experiments by other faculty members. We currently apply molecular techniques for identifying and characterization of bacteria and viruses and other avian pathogens and intend to bring new test methods on-line as they are developed.
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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Disease problems occur when raising any food animal particularly when raised in large numbers. The purpose of the project is to provide clinical and diagnostic support to prevent or control disease problems in commercial poultry.

APPROACH: This project is a continuing project to provide diagnostic support for the commercial poultry, turkey, and game bird industries. Timetables are not necessarily fixed except in relation to specific goals for improvement of diagnostic services. Collaborate efforts will be maintained with other research and diagnostic facilities for the exchange of clinical data, new test methodologies and performance of cooperative studies.

PROGRESS: 2004/06 TO 2007/06
The Diagnostic Services/Teaching Laboratory of the Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center received 8188 clinical case accessions during this reporting period(7/1/2006 to 6/30/2007). The major activity of this project is to provide clinical diagnostic support for the commercial poultry industry of Georgia. This is accomplished through the application of field investigation acquisition of flock and farm histories, application of analytical, microbiological, histopathological testing using classical and molecular methods. Activity is summarized in a typical case approach and a numerical summary of lab activity. An example of clinical investigations includes investigation of vaccine reactions causing increased condemnations at processing using serology, histopathology and molecular detection of disease agents. Investigation of early chick mortality which might include bacteriological and mycological cultures would be another example. Another might included investigation of condemnations at processing through histopathological and molecular agent detection protocols for assessment of the presence of infectious agents. The professional staff and students often investigate more chronic problems on farms within the region. These are typically multi-faceted problems that take a more long term approach. Many times these are assigned as a student project under direct supervision of an experienced clinician. These investigations bring recommendations and changes in vaccination programs and management practices which frequently allow that grower to become competitive again. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique has permitted generation of more useful and timely information in hours rather than days or weeks typical of classical diagnostic techniques for infectious bronchitis virus, Mycoplasma, REV, Newcastle disease, Avian leukosis A, Avian Leukosis J, Salmonella serotyping, Avian adenovirus, and Avian pneumovirus. PCRs for most major avian disease agents are on-line and provide useful and very timely diagnostic information. Efforts are being made to modify PCR protocols to real-time PCR for more rapid turn-around time. Research continues and new PCR tests will be applied to diagnostics as applications are developed. Time continues to be spent helping poultry companies implement and maintain HACCP plans, standards and compliance especially in the area of Salmonella control. These plans help poultry companies maintain compliance with government standards for control of food-borne microbes hazardous to consumers of processed poultry. More time will be spent in the future and more research effort continues to be made in the area of food safety. We are developing world-wide web capability for delivering lab data especially to clinical veterinarians that spend a lot of time on the road. Laboratory activity is represented by 8,188 accessions, 27,940 bacterial procedures, 65 antimicrobial susceptibilities, 105,175 ELISA tests, 47,255 IBV-HI tests, 3,574 diagnostic PCR tests, and 341necropsies.

IMPACT: 2004/06 TO 2007/06
The impact is found in continued support of the poultry industry helping to maintain poultry health. This in turn assures a good supply of econonomical protein for consumption.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
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Preventive Food Safety Systems
Antimicrobial Resistance
Bacterial Pathogens