Outbreak: Scientist develops new ‘live vaccine’ for bird flu

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WHILE the home grown chicken mostly suffers Newcastle diseases, the farmed suffers avian flu; to both, hope is come.
The Poultry farm deadliest attack, Avian influenza (Bird Flu) is on the rampage across the nations of the World the second time within a year. Avian Flu has been a major concern to Veterinary Medicine practitioners as to finding a permanent cure. This virus does not really have respect to national boundary. Wherever Poultry activities takes place, is an abode that welcomes the virus if there is lapses in the bio-security of that farm.
Precisely, the outbreak, caused by the H5N1 strain, was declared on 4 January 2016 on a farm of 260 guinea fowl, 280 ducks, 650 chickens and 60 broiler hens, in the town of Miers with the total outbreak number for Landes was raised from 27 to 28, suggesting it occurred there. The report said the virus strains all appear to be European in origin, and not the Asian strains which have been associated with trans-global spread of H5 HPAI since 2003.
France, Uk, Taiwan, Ghana counts their losses
Meanwhile, a report from the UK government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency concluded that the avian influenza risk level for the UK remains low, but has been heightened by the outbreaks in France. Reports the UK says that the risk to its country as a result of these outbreaks is primarily around pathways which involve lapses in biosecurity or trade routes, rather than through wild birds as these are apparently wholly European origin viruses. The report added that Taiwan and Ghana are not left out in the recent outbreaks as both countries are suffering losses.
In China’s southern Guangdong province, a Chinese woman is reported dead from an infection with H5N6 bird flu virus, the China News Service said recently, as the second woman is in critical condition with the virus, which only very rarely infects people but kills most of them when it does.
WHO says 683 laboratory-confirmed cases of H7N9 bird flu have been reported and the virus has killed 275 of those people. The H5N1 bird flu virus, circulating since 2003, has infected at least 844 people and killed 449 of them. “This virus does not seem to transmit easily between humans and tends to result in mild clinical disease, therefore the current likelihood of community-level spread and public health impact of this virus is considered low,” WHO says.
Outbreak toll in Nigeria on the increase
In Nigeria, bird flu first broke out in Nigeria in 1996 and resurfaced in the country in January 2015 and has since then spread to 21 states including the FCT, aside the current outbreak. The Chairman of Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) in Plateau, Mr John Dasar, has cautioned its members to ensure strict bio-security measures to avert another outbreak of bird flu. Dasar assertions that the warning became necessary as investigations showed that the disease had resurfaced in Kano and some states in the South West. He agreed that bird flu is one of the fastest spreading diseases in Nigeria and indeed in the globe.
However, the Plateau state’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Doris Bitrus last week Friday announced a fresh outbreak of Avian Influenza, saying that the bird flu had so far affected six farms. Bitrus said the fresh cases of bird flu were reported to the ministry on January 8, as six farms have been confirmed positive of the disease; the farms host a total of 10,000 birds.
In the same vein, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) recently depopulated 700, 000 birds in a bid to halt the spread of bird flu in the territory. Dr Musa Aliyu, the acting Director, Administration and Finance, FCT Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat, urged residents of the FCT to remain calm and assured them of the administration`s readiness to combat the disease. He said the disease was reported on three farms located in Kuje and Gwagwalada, adding that the farms had been quarantined for disinfection.
The acting Director, Agriculture Secretariat, Dr Regina Adulogba, also revealed that veterinary officers had been deployed to the affected farms, as FCT authority was collaborating with the FCT Chapter of the Poultry Association‎ of Nigeria (PAN) to prevent further spread of the disease.
Reports say Avian influenza killed millions of chickens and turkeys in the US in spring and summer 2015, leading to billions in lost revenue for the US poultry industry. The H5N2 strain is most prominent in the US and it is the deadliest.
The vaccine, called NDV-H5Nx has been developed to protects chickens
However, relief seems to beckon on Poultry Farmers as a team of America researchers at Kansas State University, in collaboration with Garcia-Sastre of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, has developed a vaccine that protects poultry from multiple strains of avian influenza found in the US. More so the vaccine has the potential to be administered through water or into ’embryonated’ eggs, making it easier for poultry producers to vaccinate flocks.
The vaccine, called NDV-H5Nx, protects chickens and likely other poultry against the three recently introduced US avian influenza strains H5N1, H5N2 and H5N8, as well as against Newcastle disease virus – a virus that naturally affects poultry.
Researchers developed the NDV-H5Nx vaccine with a recombinant virus technique similar to the one used to make NDV-H5N1 and NDV-H7N9 vaccines in 2015. The three H5Nx strains are genetically similar but cause different disease severity in birds. Kansas State University researchers developed and tested the NDV-H5Nx vaccine against H5N2, the deadliest strain, in the course of three months.
The most unique aspect of the NDV-H5Nx vaccine, aside been live vaccine – which has the ability to replicates itself in the chicken, it also has the potential to be administered to millions of birds at a time through water.
The Professor of Veterinary Medicine, Director of the US Department of Homeland Security’s Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases at Kansas State University, Jürgen Richt, one of the researchers involved in the discovery says “Because it’s live, we believe that the vaccine could be sprayed into the air or put in the water supply so that when the chickens need a drink, they could be vaccinated. Richt added that, a poultry farm could vaccinate all of its birds in a single day because all living creatures need water to live.
Mr Wenjun Ma, Kansas State University assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology and one of the researchers involved, further reveals that the vaccine also has the potential to be administered to developing chicks in eggs, resulting in offspring being automatically vaccinated for the diseases
Additionally, the NDV-H5Nx vaccine which seems to match the Hydra head attack of the avian flu virus, researchers say it has further ability to differentiate infected from vaccinated animals, or DIVA. This compatibility is critical for the US poultry industry because it provides evidence to trade partners that poultry have been vaccinated and is free of H5, Mr Richt explained.
While Ma said that the H5 avian influenza strains affect poultry worldwide and have a 100 percent mortality rate in chickens within six days and for diseases it’s critical to have a multidisciplinary approach. Kansas State University has the expertise, resources and environment necessary to do this work and make this multidisciplinary approach work.
Richt and Ma, who presented the project along with the proof-of-concept vaccination methods at a recent meeting of stakeholders and leaders in the US agricultural industry, including the chicken and turkey industries, are helpful in the further development and adoption of the NDV-H5Nx vaccine. The Researchers findings which currently in preparation to be publish in a scientific journal, was funded through the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility’s research project transitional funds and Avimex.

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