Read our interview with... Dr Beth Krushinskie D.V.M.
Dr B Krushinskie D.V.M. President of the American Association of Avian Pathologists speaks exclusively to ThePoultrySite.com
Dr. Elizabeth Krushinskie
Dr. Krushinskie is originally from western Minnesota. She earned a DVM degree from Colorado State University, a PhD degree in Veterinary Microbiology from the University of Minnesota, and is board certified by the American College of Poultry Veterinarians. She is an active participant in a variety of poultry industry organizations including the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Association of Avian Pathologists, Association of Veterinarians in Broiler Production, National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, and U.S. Animal Health Association.
The AAAP was launched in 1957 as a national organization for veterinary practitioners, diagnosticians, researchers, and students interested in poultry health and medicine. With annual meetings involving both national and international members, interested individuals come together to discuss poultry diseases and further advance the field of poultry medicine.
The AAAP was incorporated as a non-profit organization with five objectives: (source)
- to provide an organization for the promotion of mutual interest of those persons engaged in avian medicine,
- stimulate scientific progress in avian pathology,
- encourage adequate training in poultry diseases,
- encourage graduate and other forms of advance training in avian diseases
- encourage publication of a scientific journal on avian diseases.
Organic and Free Range products are gaining in popularity in several major markets around the world - do these more extensive management methods give you any particular health concerns?
Yes. The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where I am located, was devastated by an extensive Avian Influenza outbreak in commercial turkey and chicken production in 2002 which cost over $140 million dollars. The virus is endemic in wild bird populations and is also present in non-commercial poultry populations in the U.S. The problem with free range poultry production is exactly what the name implies - the birds are out on open land with exposure to disease-carrying wild bird populations. Several other countries worldwide have also experienced devastating Avian Influenza outbreaks recently indicating that exposure to this disease agent from non-commercial bird reservoirs is not an insignificant problem.
Organic production, on the other hand, is also of concern to me because it frequently involves withholding the use of beneficial antibiotics for treatment of bacterial infections in organic flocks. This constitutes, in my opinion as a poultry veterinarian, a significant animal welfare issue whereby sick or dying birds are denied effective treatments solely due to a marketing position. That is not humane by any definition.
The licensing cost of new medicine products has risen in recent years to the point that this is now a very significant cost consideration. Are there any cost effective remedies you would be keen to promote and at what point do you feel this will slow down the future development of new products that the Industry cost structure can afford?
The development of new antibiotics and anticoccidial products for poultry production is essentially non-existent at this time. Sharply increased development costs coupled with the threat of products being withdrawn after market release have proven to be a powerful disincentive to investment into new product development. Perhaps the most encouraging alternative to anti-coccidials presently is the increasing use of coccidial vaccines in both the breeder and growout phases of production. Recombinant and molecular sub-unit vaccines probably represent the most significant new technologies currently under development. The replacement of antibiotics with alternative technologies is not well-developed at this time, but warrants continued research and development effort.
In general the historic role of veterinary surgeon involvement has been in disease diagnosis and treatment. Is this role changing, as seems to be the case in human medicine for example, towards a greater involvement in disease prevention?
In poultry production, disease prevention is the name of the game. Once a flock of birds has experienced a disease insult, the economic profit has been erased and usually the flock is marketed at a financial loss. Veterinarians in food animal production have also evolved significantly in their responsibilities in the public health arena by providing expertise on the control of food-borne pathogens in live production that affect people, but do not necessarily produce disease in poultry. The consumer demand is for cheap, nutritious meat protein that tastes good and is safe to eat.
Produce is now being shipped across the world from lower cost bases to higher revenue markets. In the light of this globilisation what changes need to happen, if any, to ensure proactive veterinary awareness, communication and support on a worldwide basis?
We are increasingly a global community and communication of animal health concerns and transmission of diseases worldwide is of increasing importance. I believe that the OIE and WTO have done a tremendous job of harmonizing disease diagnosis and communication between the various trading partners. In addition, professional organizations, such as the American Association of Avian Pathologists, with international membership can help improve communication within the veterinary community regarding poultry disease incidence and control.
What can less developed Industries in other parts of the world learn from the success of your Association?
Our association has had a long history of providing a positive forum where people with diverse backgrounds but similar interests and needs can make professional connections, share information, and work on projects that benefit the poultry industry as a whole. The AAAP has numerous active committees that present in-depth symposia on a variety of sub-specialties of the organization such as animal welfare, electronic information, food safety, enteric disease, respiratory diseases, etc. We also produce several educational publications including the Avian Diseases journal, Diseases of Poultry, and an Avian Diseases manual. Through AAAP, poultry disease professionals in academia, industry, and allied industry become a tight-knit community of friends and colleagues that work together as one unit to improve poultry production and health for all.
What are the current diseases threatening the worldwide industry right now and could you comment on where (viral, bacterial etc) future disease threats, will come from?
I believe the most significant threat to poultry production today stems from the continuing increase in the prevalence of respiratory diseases such as Exotic Newcastle Disease and Avian Influenza in commercial poultry production worldwide. These viruses are highly contagious, readily transmissible in the face of stringent biosecurity measures, and exist in non-commercial and wild bird reservoirs worldwide. Because of the increased prevalence of highly concentrated food animal agriculture and the global nature of poultry trade, infections with either of these diseases can cost companies, and countries, millions of dollars to control. The production losses coupled with trade restrictions imposed by other countries can prove to be devastating to the individual companies affected and may result in bankruptcy.
What attracted you to a career in the Industry and what are your aspirations for the future?
I was, and still am, attracted to poultry health as a profession because of the highly scientific and technical nature of disease control in poultry. This industry has done an exemplary job of developing an understanding of the immune system, laying the foundation for the state of immunology research in mammals, including humans, today. Research on poultry diseases has also contributed significantly to our understanding of viral and bacterial disease control in general and has led the way in focusing on prevention strategies, such as vaccination, rather than treatment. In addition, modern integrated poultry production is a model of agricultural economic efficiency that is increasingly being adopted in other countries and other food animal production systems, most notably swine production. Integrated poultry production buffers the individual producer from the cyclical nature of commodity markets while helping to preserve the family farm.
My aspirations for the future are to continue to develop better ways to produce affordable, nutritious and safe poultry meat protein to better feed the world's growing human population.
Source: ThePoultrySite's intrepid interviewer - January 2004