ANALYSIS - In the last week, two new developments in the field of poultry health have been announced that promise to revolutionise the veterinary world in the coming years. The first is molecular technology as a means of disease prevention and control and secondly, UK researchers have proven that the concept of a universal vaccine against avian flu is a possibility. Avian flu is suspected as the cause of mass mortality among wild ducks in Russia.
The way in which flock health is managed could change radically over the next 20 years, thanks to developments in molecular technology. This was one of the conclusions from a recent meeting in Brussels on 'Advances in Diagnostics'.
The meeting heard how developments in molecular technology are opening new possibilities for animal disease prevention and control.
"This application of molecular technology means that we can now understand diseases and animal health at a more fundamental level than ever before - at the gene level - and that will have a major impact on the way we approach animal health in the near future," said Dr Kirk Adams, director of product management at Life Technologies, who sponsored the meeting.
UK-based researchers from the Pirbright Institute and the University of Oxford, working together as the Jenner Institute, have taken an important step towards a universal vaccine against avian influenza.
The virus disease threatens the poultry industry worldwide and poses a risk of new human strains of flu.
Dr Colin Butter, who led the research, said: "Traditional avian flu vaccines are only effective against one particular type of flu but we want to be able to protect birds, and ultimately people, against different subtypes using just one vaccine. This research suggests that, in principle, a universal vaccine is possible."
Staying on poultry health issues, highly pathogenic avian influenza is suspected in the death of thousands of wild ducks in the Krasnodar region of Russia although the actual cause of the mortalities is still under investigation.
In the last week, Israel has reported sub-clinical Newcastle disease in broilers and broiler breeders.
The EU has earmarked more than €199 million to support programmes to eradicate, control and monitor animal diseases and zoonoses, aiming to further strengthen the protection of human and animal health in 2013. Among the 137 programmes are those against salmonellosis (€16.6 million) and avian influenza (€2.6 million).
The allocation of financing is targeted to assist national authorities to control and eradicate these diseases, fund vaccination and carry out surveillance programmes in order to detect early outbreaks.
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