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Methods explored for preventing blackhead disease in poultry

branex/iStock/Thinkstock veterinarian checking broiler chickens
Findings showed why chickens have lower mortality than turkeys during infection.

Histomoniasis outbreaks in turkeys and broiler breeders can lead to major economic losses for the poultry industry. Reports of histomoniasis outbreaks dramatically increased after the last approved treatment was taken off the market in 2016. As such, there is an urgent need to understand and develop an intervention strategy to alleviate histomoniasis in turkeys and broiler breeders.

USPOULTRY and the USPOULTRY Foundation announce the completion of a funded research project at North Carolina State University in which researchers explored methods for preventing blackhead disease in poultry. The objectives of the project were to 1) understand the immune response in turkeys elicited by Histomonas meleagridis, 2) understand the factors and pathways of H. meleagridis lateral transmission in turkeys, and 3) investigate the role of production practices on histomoniasis in broiler breeders.

Dr. Chongxiao Chen, research assistant professor at North Carolina State University, and colleagues conducted the research to better understand the factors and pathways in which Histomonas meleagridis spread, the immune response in turkeys and the role that production practices have on the disease process. Findings showed why chickens have lower mortality than turkeys during infection. Also, various stressors during production led to an increased infection rate of blackhead. Further, several new potential vectors for H. meleagridis were discovered. The data presented in the current report provided valuable information for understanding immune responses to histomoniasis and contributes to vaccine development.

The research was made possible in part by an endowing Foundation gift from Prestage Farms and proceeds from the International Poultry Expo, part of International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE). The research is part of the association’s comprehensive research program encompassing all phases of poultry and egg production and processing.

The full research summary can be found here.

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