Egg Industry Center

EIC-Funded Avian Influenza Research

Understanding New HPAI Viruses Affecting the U.S. Poultry Industry and their Persistence

Total Funded: $65,000
Project Duration: 18 months

The objectives of the study are: a) to assess biosecurity measures taken to impede the introduction of pathogens, such as AI, to poultry premises by a survey which focuses on management of feces and bedding as well as on footbath maintenance and preparation; b) to determine and compare the full genome of HPAI (H5N8) and LPAI (H6N2) before and after being mixed with organic materials such as feces or bedding material and footbath contents looking for mutations in the viral gene suggestive of adaptation to poultry and persistence in the environment; and c) to assess the persistence of the virus, in terms of viability, in bedding material or feces and footbaths maintained using different procedures.

Results from this study are expected to help better understanding the causing agent in terms of its genotype and behavior in the environment and to allow for correlating this information with the current biosecurity practices.

Scientists working on this project include: Dr. Rodrigo Gallardo, assistant professor in poultry medicine at the University of California School of Veterinary Medicine; Dr. Huaijun Zhou, associate professor of Animal Science, University of California, Beate Crossley, associate professor, California Animal Heath and Food Safety Laboratory System, University of California; Dr. Rüdiger Hauck, poultry medicine laboratory post doctoral scholar, University of California; and Maurice Pitesky, assistant specialist with the University of California School of Veterinary Medicine.

The role of litter beetles, water, and rodents in Avian Influenza virus transmission

Total Funded: $38,000
Project Duration: 18 months

The objectives of the study are to determine a) if darkling beetles can act as vector in transmission of AIV, b) if virus can become incorporated into biofilm located inside a poultry house’s waterlines, and c) if rodents can be infected and transmit AIV.

Outcomes from this study will help improving our understanding of the epidemiology of AIV. Knowledge derived from this study will assist in implementing improved biosecurity programs to help reducing and preventing the spread of AIV into poultry houses, which could negate the use of vaccines and prevent the costly embargo of all poultry products.

Scientists working on this project include: Dr. Joseph Giambrone, professor of poultry science at Auburn University; Dr. Kenneth Macklin, associate professor and extension specialist at Auburn University, and Hongzhuan Wu, associate professor of Biology at Alabama State University.

Role of terrestrial wild birds, rodents, and insects in spreading avian influenza virus to commercial layer operations

Total Funded: $119,866
Project Duration: 18 months

The objective of this research is to determine whether small terrestrial wild birds (e.g., sparrows, starlings, and finches), rodents, and/or insects can transmit avian influenza viruses, including H5N2, between traditional wildlife reservoirs (i.e., waterfowls/shorebirds) and commercial layer operations, or among such farms.

The information will help in developing targeted mitigation strategies for the poultry industry based upon which species (and which locations) are most likely to contribute to AIV transmission. Such actions may include recommending avicides to be used near off-site feed mills or non-poultry CAFO’s, augmenting rodent and insect control, and replacing biobarriers (trees, shrubs) with inorganic materials (walls, fencing) to protect poultry operations against AIV transmission from wild birds.

Iowa State University scientists on this project include: Dr. Kyoung-Jin Yoon, professor in the Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, Dr. James S. Adelman, assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Dr. Yuko Sato, assistant professor and extension poultry veterinarian for the state of Iowa and Julie Blanchong, associate professor with the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management.

Evaluation of alternative environmental samples matrices for avian influenza virus surveillance and stability in commercial poultry facilities

Total Funded: $43,168
Project Duration: 18 months

The main objective of this study is to validate the efficacy of collecting environmental samples, such as Swiffer® samples, drag swabs (Solar biologics), water, feather and feed samples, etc. as convenient surveillance samples for accurate and timely detection of AIV in a flock. The study is also intends to optimize processing of these sample matrices and test performance to reliably detect AIV in these samples.

It is anticipated that environmental samples will be a valuable tool for surveillance of AIV in layer facilities prior to and after an outbreak of the disease. In addition, environmental samples will be necessary to evaluate disinfection procedures after depopulation and between re-stocking of poultry in the barns. The results will help identifying which samples are deemed as most ideal (compliance, prevalence, and preservation) for environmental sampling and detection of AIV. The project will also determine the lowest quantity detectable in different sample matrices and stability of AIV in the environment.

Iowa State University scientists on this project include: Dr. Phillip Gauger, assistant professor, Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine; Dr. Yuko Sato, assistant professor and extension poultry veterinarian for the state of Iowa and Dr. Karen Harmon, associate scientist in the Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine.

Identifying genetic basis for resistance to avian influenza in commercial egg layer chickens

Total Funded: $43,500
Project Duration: 18 months

Although HPAI is highly infectious, in many flocks a small number (less than .01%) of birds survived for four weeks in the virally infected chicken houses. These survivors may contain natural genetic variation that makes them resistant to HPAI. Two mid-west egg production facilities provided blood samples from survivors of HPAI, as well as from non-infected controls.  This project will look for genetic differences between the survivors and non-infected control birds.  The DNA of survivors and controls will be compared at 600,000 genetic locations across the genome. 

Identifying any genetic differences would be extremely valuable because it will enable the breeding HPAI resistant chickens. Additionally, this on-going project may provide information on specific genes that vaccinations can target or are best targeted for gene editing.   

Iowa State University scientists on this project include: Dr. Jack Dekkers, distinguished professor in Animal Science and Dr. Anna Wolc, adjunct assistant professor in Animal Science at Iowa State University and Janet Fulton of Hy-Line International.

Evaluation of feedstuffs for the presence of avian influenza virus (AIV) collected from feed mills and poultry farms and their role in spreading of AIV 

Total Funded: $45,297
Project Duration: 18 months

The objectives of this research are to identify if feedstuffs, such as corn, could be contaminated with AIV and serve as a potential carrier and source of exposure in commercial chicken or turkey operations; and assess how long AIV is viable in spiked feed under controlled situations.

Results from this study will help understanding a potential source of virus entry and practical methods to reduce contamination of feedstuffs by implementation of control procedures or biosecurity measures pertaining to feed delivery and maintenance.

Iowa State University scientists on this project include: Dr. Yuko Sato, assistant professor and extension poultry veterinarian for the state of Iowa and Dr. Kyoung-Jin Yoon, professor in the Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine.

 

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