Poultry Respiratory Protection
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Delair Bolis

Winning the war on Newcastle

It seems there are some poultry diseases that just won’t go away and, in fact, become more challenging with time.

For many decades, that was the case with Newcastle — a persistent bug that the authors of the prestigious Diseases of Poultry once said was “unsurpassed by any other poultry virus and probably represents a larger drain on the world’s economy than any other animal virus.”

In recent years, H5N1 avian influenza may have passed Newcastle as the virus that presents the biggest drain on the world’s economy (Boven M et al, 2008). Nevertheless, the economic impact of virulent Newcastle disease (vND) remains very big — and very real.

Making headway

The good news is that the global poultry industry is making significant progress against ND — not only with biosecurity and vaccination programs, but also in reducing the stress and production losses associated with some ND-management tools.

In Mexico, for example — a country with a long history of vND — researchers have made considerable headway using a recombinant vaccine built on the herpesvirus of turkey. Ángel Mosqueda Taylor, DVM, a veterinary consultant and former professor at the National Autonomous University, reports that some farms in endemic areas have reduced mortality from 24.5% to 5.5% by making subcutaneous INNOVAX-ND-SB the foundation for the ND-control program.

From research at Oklahoma State University in the US, we have also learned that broilers perform better the first 2 weeks of life if the ND vaccine they receive is one that causes less stress. Nutritionist Robert Teeter, PhD, found that birds immunized with a recombinant ND vaccine had significantly better weight gain and feed conversion than those receiving conventional ND vaccination protocols. They also retained more energy compared to the other vaccine groups.

Performance improvements

Some of the world’s top producers have also reported measurable performance improvements by making adjustments to their ND vaccination program. At the Pilgrim’s operation in North Carolina, for example, Scott Westall, DVM, was concerned that summer heat and the stress associated with a live ND vaccine were increasing bird mortality and lowering carcass quality. After switching to the no-stress recombinant ND vaccine, the flock's livability, feed conversion and condemnation rates returned to normal.

There’s always room for improvement in any poultryhealth program. Fortunately, in the case of ND, innovative vaccination strategies are making it possible to provide more dependable protection while reducing stress and improving flock performance.

This special edition of the Journal of Poultry Respiratory Protection offers many valuable, field-proven tips for battling one of the toughest diseases of poultry. For more information, please visit or contact your Merck Animal Health* representative.

Delair Bolis

Head,Global Poultry Business Unit
Merck Animal Health
[email protected]

*Known as MSD Animal Health outside Canada and the US.

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