APHIS, NIFA-funded research protecting the US poultry industry

Researchers are looking at new ways to battle avian influenza
calendar icon 10 March 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

Recently, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed it has detected highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in multiple states. APHIS has confirmed the disease in commercial broiler and turkey flocks as well as in a backyard flock. Earlier this year, APHIS identified HPAI in migrating waterfowl. Migrating waterfowl such as ducks and geese are the primary reservoir for avian influenza viruses.

In 2015, 15 states suffered an HPAI outbreak, and the poultry industry lost more than 51 million chickens and turkeys. Reducing the threat of another large outbreak is crucial to a safe food supply and a stable poultry industry.

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) supports researchers as they work to find ways to battle HPAI.

For example, a University of Minnesota (UM) scientist is working to improve vaccine options for HPAI. Through her NIFA Hatch-funded research project, Dr. Yuying Liang with the UM College of Veterinary Medicine developed eight vaccine candidates against highly pathogenic H5 and H7 avian influenza viruses.

A team of researchers at the University of California (UC)-Davis, the University of Delaware and the US Geological Survey is creating an interactive web-based tool to help poultry producers better assess their operations’ disease risks from migrating waterfowl. Their work is funded through a five-year Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) grant from NIFA.

University of Georgia scientists are working to develop a new class of modified live virus vaccines that induce broadly protective immune responses with funding from a multi-year AFRI grant.

Researchers in the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine are working to deploy and validate cutting-edge tools that can rapidly detect avian influenza in the field. They believe their approach, which is supported by NIFA Hatch capacity funding, can reduce diagnosis from days to hours and can identify the actual detected virus’ threat to animals or humans.

A multi-state effort led by the University of Delaware is investigating how the immune system develops to improve animal health. Partner states include Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. The multi-year project funded through NIFA Hatch capacity funding is also looking at the origins and development of avian influenza and other infectious diseases including Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens and coccidiosis.

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