USDA Develops New Poultry Vaccine, Incorporates New Testing Standard

U.S. Agriculture Department scientists recently announced a new vaccine to protect chickens against a pair of potentially fatal diseases.

Qingzhong Yu and other researchers at the Athens, Georgia-based Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory successfully inserted an infectious laryngotracheitis gene into the existing vaccine strain for Newcastle disease.

Tests in dozens of 1-day-old and 3-day-old chickens showed all birds were protected against both diseases; infectious laryngotracheitis and Newcastle disease can cause sickness or death in domestic and commercial poultry and among some wild birds.

Yu said the new vaccine is safer than the current infectious laryngotracheitis vaccines and can be given to large chicken populations easily and at low costs. He also said its effectiveness against both diseases would create a "huge market." The researchers published their findings in the Journal of Virology.

“Developing a commercial vaccine that provides better protection against disease would have a positive economic impact on the U.S. poultry industry and also make its products -- meat and eggs -- less expensive for consumers," Yu said.

Meanwhile, French biotech company bioMerieux recently announced the USDA included its TEMPO technology in the agency's latest testing standards.

TEMPO units — which were installed at the USDA's three regional testing centers in 2013 – automatically enumerate a variety of microbiological contaminants during screening of food products.