Egg Yolk Antibodies; an Alternative to Antibiotics?

13-03-2007 | | |
Yegani

Antimicrobials have been used in the poultry industry for growth promotion, disease prevention, and treatment of infections for many years. However, evidence is mounting that resistant bacteria or resistance determinants might be passed from animals to humans. This situation has put a lot of pressure on the poultry industry to withdraw or limit antibiotic use in animal feed and to look for viable alternatives. (Comments 15)

Antimicrobials have been used in the poultry industry for growth promotion (sub-therapeutic doses), disease prevention (prophylactic doses), and treatment of infections for many years. Microbiological and clinical evidence is mounting that resistant bacteria or resistance determinants might be passed from animals to humans, resulting in infections that are more difficult to treat. This situation has put tremendous pressure on the poultry industry to withdraw or limit antibiotic use in animal feed and to look for viable alternatives.
Egg yolk antibodies
Oral immunotherapy (passive immunization) with specific antibodies is a strategy that has been actively pursued in laboratory and clinical studies for the last two decades. Feeding of specific egg yolk antibodies to neutralize pathogens especially enteric microorganisms is one of the potential alternatives to antibiotics. Oral administration of these antibodies has had some degree of success in prevention of viral and bacterial enteric infections in humans, piglets, calves, and fish.
Applications in poultry

Egg yolk antibodies produced against Salmonella spp. can reduce intestinal colonization of these bacteria in poultry. It has been shown that a combination of probiotics and egg yolk antibodies may be more effective in reducing the colonization of S. enteritidis in poultry. Beneficial effects of egg yolk antibody administration have also been reported against Campylobacter jejuni, E.coli infections, infectious bursal disease, and Newcastle disease.
Where do we go from here?
There are still many obstacles which make oral administration of antibodies in commercial poultry a difficult goal to achieve. Getting approval from regulatory authorities, cost of production of antibodies in large scale, stability of these substances in poultry feed and gastrointestinal tract, specificity of these antibodies against field pathogens (as pathogens constantly evolve) are a few of these obstacles. The current trend in the industry is to move from treatment to prevention. Disease prevention is a complicated process with multiple determinants, and alternatives to antibiotics could be part of this. Solid biosecurity measures will remain as a very important part of disease prevention/control strategies.

Do you think that egg yolk antibodies have any potential as an alternative to antibiotics? Do you see any possibility for these compounds to become commercially available in different parts of the world? Let’s discuss our opinions here.

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