Farm World, May 13, 2015
USDA Grant Funding Poultry Disease Study
By: Celeste Baumgartner, Ohio Correspondent
COLUMBUS, Ohio—Research on poultry diseases has not been funded well by the government. A USDA grant to Ohio State University (OSU) is a step towards improving that situation.
“There are so many respiratory pathogens that have been neglected because of limited funding which resulted in limited research,” said Chang Won Lee, associate professor in Food Animal Health Research Program at Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and the director of the new USDA-funded project. “Although there has been some research, it has all been very small scale, very fragmented.”
Respiratory diseases involve multiple pathogens, and they interact with each other, Lee said. Researchers cannot study one pathogen but must look at how the host reacts; that can vary depending on the health condition of the host. The environment, possibly the air quality on the farm might affect the disease.
“You have to look at this together—the pathogen, host, and environment.” Lee said. “So far we couldn’t do that; that is what this grant is for. This is an interdisciplinary, multi-state collaborative project to bring this all together. My job is to coordinate many different researchers from different states to look at this together instead of looking at one pathogen, in one condition.”
This grant was one of three announced by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). They are designed to boost food security by minimizing livestock losses to insects and diseases. These awards, which support research, education and extension efforts, were made through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Institute (AFRI). That is authorized by the 2014 farm bill.
OSU was awarded $1,460,000 for year 1 ($7,230,000 over five years). That grant builds on the successful and productive multi-state research committee that is already working on poultry respiratory diseases, said Peter Johnson, National Program Leader at NIFA.
“They have four objectives,” he explained. “The first is to better understand what is called the ecology of poultry respiratory diseases (avian flu is included, but there are also many other viral and bacterial diseases). The second part is looking at the multi-factorial causation of disease.”
“The third part is, they are developing new and improved diagnostic tools as well as vaccines and some antibiotic free prevention methods,” Johnson said.
The fourth part of what the scientists are working on is the education of stakeholders to help them better prevent and control the respiratory diseases, Johnson said. “That includes avian influenza, but it also includes a constellation of respiratory disease agents.”
The experts are not only targeting the larger poultry operations but also the small backyard owners of poultry who may not have a good understanding biosecurity and how to keep their animals free of disease.