Viruses, production trends set to shape future of poultry health
The future of global poultry health could be shaped as much production trends as viruses such as avian influenza and Newcastle disease, experts say.
In a report by Poultry International, scientists said the move towards cage-free and antibiotic-free production was likely to create health issues that could be as problematic to producers as viruses unless they were properly managed.
Dr. John Glisson, vice president of research programs at the US Poultry and Egg Association, said endemic disease would always be a major challenge to poultry health, with more intense variants of viruses such as avian flu expected over the coming decades.
Glisson said too few countries have taken a dedicated approach to dealing with avian flu and by failing to eradicate the virus, it has continued to spread and mutate, creating a problem around the world.
“This has forced us to change,” he said. “We used to not worry about avian flu, because we never thought there was going to be a constant source of the virus.”
In the future, it is likely that avian flu will be present in new countries, he added.
Another major health concern is Newcastle disease, which has become endemic in so many countries that it is now a significant risk to the global poultry industry.
“For many years, some countries have decided not to eradicate it, like Mexico. It is a major concern for the US and Canada [and others],” Glisson said.
“Brazil has worked very hard to control and eradicate Newcastle disease, but it is surrounded by countries that do not, so their industry is in the same situation as ours.”
While endemic disease will always be an issue, trends in antibiotic-free and cage-free production have created new health challenges, Glisson added.
Converting to cage-free egg production has brought back disease issues not seen in decades, while access to the outdoors could create other health issues such as external parasites and coccidiosis.
“[Without careful management, there is a risk that] much of the progress we have achieved, in which we have worked so hard on avian health, will be lost,” he added.