Representatives from Europe’s biggest poultry and feed producers joined Anitox scientists yesterday to consider the risk of avian influenza transfer through feed.

A Piece of the Avian Influenza Puzzle

Speaking after the webinar, veterinarian and Anitox Global Technical Director Dr Gino Lorenzoni confirmed:  “We still don’t have all the pieces of the jigsaw in place, but we have enough of a picture for me to be convinced feed should be treated as part of an effective biosecurity program.”

“Yesterday’s session underlined the fact that as an industry we’re looking for multiple vectors.  Migratory birds are widely accepted to be responsible for inter-continental and inter-state spread.  The answer as to how individual farm biosecurity is being breached, though, is more complex.  There are multiple mechanical vectors under the spotlight, with feed appearing on that list for two reasons.  Firstly, migratory birds settle and shed virus on feed raw materials such as corn.  Any protection normally offered by heat in the pelleting process is absent, as layers and turkeys are predominantly fed mash.”

Lessons Learned

In his post-webinar broadcast Anitox CEO Dr Rick Phillips points to lessons learned from PEDv and Salmonella.   “Having been wary of the challenges initially, I’ve now signed-off further investment in independent research into control tools with Dr Haroldo Toro at Auburn University, Alabama, USA.  While there is no silver bullet, having studied the USDA report into risk of AI spread in contaminated corn, I’m personally convinced that feed has potential to play a part.”

Concern About Viruses

In an open Q&A session, delegates and scientists considered the role of passerines such as sparrows and starlings in the spread of previous high pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreaks in the US.

Dr Lorenzoni explained that AIV is not a resistant virus. “It can survive in feed only if the conditions are appropriate. When Termin-8 is applied correctly at the indicated dose, it will effectively disrupt the favorable environment for virus survival.”

The panel confirmed that methodology had been validated for isolation of the virus from feed in preparation for research into Termin-8 and its potential as a control tool in AI biosecurity programs.   They confirmed that the data from the Termin-8 trials is available from Anitox and will be disclosed in detail in a scientific publication by Dr. Toro.

Dr Lorenzoni also confirmed that Anitox has commissioned research into Avian Influenza control with its next-generation formaldehyde-free feed treatment, Finio, which is currently available in Europe and in selected countries in Asia Pacific.

Finally, the panel was asked about Coronaviruses and the potential for IBV to enter a flock through mash feed.  Dr Lorenzoni confirmed that birds other than poultry can harbor coronaviruses. “Pigeons have been shown to be carriers.  To my knowledge the virus detected in pigeons is not 100% homologous to IBV.  However, this virus is known for its ability to mutate.  In other words, coronavirus is likely to be entering the flocks via mash feed.  Whether coronaviruses can produce a disease in poultry will depend on the specific strain.”

Dr Lorenzoni concluded: “IBV coronavirus has also been implicated in diseases other than the typical respiratory case.  For example, a coronavirus traced to pigeons has been shown to be infective in poultry, producing pancreatitis when inoculated in SPF-chickens.  These non-bronchitis variants are more likely to be transmitted via feed, causing problems to poultry.”

Hear More From Our Panel

To hear Dr Phillips’ introduction on the subject of the risk of Avian Influenza transmission through feed go to www.anitox.com/AIIntro or contact Anitox to access the full presentation.