Researchers to crack poultry production health risks

28 January 2019, at 12:00am

AUSTRALIA - A new collaboration will help feed the world’s growing demand for poultry and eggs, while minimising the risk to international public health from animal-to-human-diseases

The University of Queensland has become a key partner of the One Health Poultry Hub, a global alliance to help developing nations avoid intensive poultry farming hazards.

Poultry researcher and veterinary epidemiologist Dr Joerg Henning, from UQ’s School of Veterinary Science, said it was time more research was conducted to prevent international public health risks.

“Population growth is driving increasing demand for poultry meat and egg production, and this rapid intensification creates the conditions for diseases to emerge, to spread quickly and to spill over to people,” he said.

“These risks include bacterial food poisoning, strains of avian influenza with epidemic or pandemic potential, and increased antimicrobial resistance due to misuse of antibiotics in poultry farming.

“The need for safe, sustainable poultry production is most urgent in South and South East Asia, and the One Health Poultry Hub will focus on countries like Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.”

The Hub will be led by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) - London, and include partners in Asia, Australia, Europe and the UK.

It will bring together teams of laboratory, clinical, veterinary and social scientists to investigate how and why intensification of poultry production increases the risk of infectious disease.

“The Hub will also identify high-risk behaviours, processes and environments, as well as evaluating novel interventions for disease control,” Dr Henning said.

“UQ in particular will work with postgraduate students to conduct field work in developing countries and analyse the data in Australia.

“This work will be crucial in providing households with income and nutritionally-rich food sources, contributing to women's empowerment, building future food security, improving animal health and tackling biosecurity risks.

“It’s another example of UQ using its research capacity to aid some of the world’s poorest, while helping build the next generation of researchers.”

The One Health Poultry Hub is funded by United Kingdom Research and Innovation’s Global Challenges Research Fund.

University of Queensland and the Australian Government scholarships support postgraduate researchers from South and South East Asia engaged through the collaboration.