New test to detect lethal poultry disease developed in US
Ohio State University's Center for Diagnostic Assays (CDA) has come
up with a first-of-its-kind test for the detection of very virulent infectious
bursal disease virus (vvIBDV), a highly contagious disease of poultry that is
causing major losses to the industry worldwide.
Daral Jackwood, a molecular biologist with the
university's Food Animal Health Research Program (FAHRP) on the Ohio
Agricultural Research and Development Center's (OARDC) Wooster campus, developed
a validated real-time RT-PCR assay (patent pending) for the rapid detection of
nucleotide sequences that are unique to vvIBDV strains affecting poultry
operations all around the world. This new assay distinguishes vvIBDV strains
from non-vvIBDV classic and variant strains.
"Until now, no validated
rapid assay for the detection of all known vvIBDV strains existed," said
Jackwood, who heads CDA. "In countries with vvIBDV, this assay is necessary for
the effective monitoring and control of this devastating disease. In countries
without the virus, the assay would be a first line of defense needed to prevent
vvIBDV from entering domestic poultry operations."
According to the
US Department of Agriculture (USDA), poultry is the fastest-growing component of
global meat demand. The US is the world's largest poultry producer and the
second-largest egg producer and exporter of poultry meat, with an annual farm
value exceeding $20 billion.
IBDV(which, unlike highly pathogenic avian flu, does not
affect humans) is an immuno-suppressive disease that attacks young birds,
killing them or making them more susceptible to other infectious agents. In
addition, this disease can quickly produce mutated viruses that are resistant to
vaccines. IBDV has troubled egg and broiler operations in the US since the
1950s, and recent studies show the incidence of variant IBDV strains is
increasing throughout the country.
But the expanding threat of vvIBDV
- a much more powerful version of the disease that can kill up to 80 percent of
a flock - has made it a top concern among the poultry industry. Beginning with
European outbreaks in the mid-1980s, vvIBDV has spread furiously. It has been
identified in chicken flocks on nearly every continent, including cases in
Europe, Asia, South America, Central America and the Caribbean.
greatest challenge was to find a region of the vial genome that was stable and
unique to all known vvIBDV strains," Jackwood explained. "We were lucky enough
to find two regions containing a total of six nucleotides unique to vvIBDV
strains. The second major challenge was then to design an assay to reliably
identify these six unique nucleotides. That process took us about six months. We
then spent the next year validating our assay."
The next step
involves getting the test on the market. Ohio State is currently inviting
inquiries from scientific companies interested in discussing a potential
collaboration with the university to produce and market a vvIBDV real-time
RT-PCR assay kit worldwide.
The prospects for commercialisation are
very good, Jackwood said. A reliable and economical assay for vvIBDV is needed
in many parts of the world to help control the destructive disease caused by
this virus. And the countries that do not currently have vvIBDV, such as the US
and Australia, are interested in keeping the disease at bay by monitoring
imported poultry for vvIBDV. In 2004 alone, the US imported more than18 million
chicks and 9 million hatching eggs.
"If vvIBDV does reach the US, this
assay will be very important in the initial diagnosis and subsequent
eradication of the agent from our chicken flocks," Jackwood said. For Ohio,
the test means a vital tool to safeguard its $3.3 billion
To comment, login here
Or register to be able to comment.