“Vaccines urgently needed to fight avian adenovirus”

The poultry industry is urging the government to speed up the import of avian adenovirus vaccines to curb the spread of inclusion body hepatitis (IBH).

Gregorio San Diego, chairman of the United Broiler Association and the Philippine Egg Association, said the country is in dire need of vaccines against the chicken adenovirus that causes IBH. The proliferation of IBH is currently a growing industry and government concern.

“The government should expedite the process of approving and importing vaccines. [against fowl adenovirus] just like what he did against Covid-19. One of the challenges in fighting adenovirus is the shortage of vaccine supplies,” San Diego said in an interview with BusinessMirror.

The government recently confirmed rising cases of IBH in poultry, exacerbating the production problems of poultry farmers who continue to suffer from high production costs due to disruptions in global supply chains. (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/06/30/poultry-raisers-issue-warning-on-spread-of-fowl-adenovirus/)

The Bureau of Animal Production (BAI), a subordinate agency of the Department of Agriculture, previously issued special import permits for autogenous IBH vaccines.

University of the Philippines Los Baños professor Sherwin Kamba said autogenous vaccination is the best option to fight IBH. Autogenous vaccination involves the administration of a vaccine made from a specific IBH serotype affecting a given poultry population.

Kamba, who is part of the technical team that conducts IBV surveillance, said that the killed IBV vaccine available in the country is only effective against two serotypes of the virus.

IBH has 12 serotypes, and the locally killed IBH vaccine is effective against serotypes 4 and 8, but the predominant serotype affecting poultry farms today is 8-B, Kamba added.

“That’s why we need to import [the autogenous vaccines] if we want to get vaccinated against the same serotype,” he told BusinessMirror.

“The best way to fight the disease is vaccination. Poultry farmers are ready to vaccinate their flock, but there is a problem with supplies. There is demand, but there is a supply problem.”

San Diego also warned that avian adenovirus could spread faster than the avian flu virus because some infected birds show no symptoms or are “asymptomatic”.

“The virus spreads both horizontally and vertically, which means it can spread to other poultry and can be transmitted from the parent flock,” he said.

“I am concerned that the situation could worsen as this disease spreads faster as some infected poultry do not show symptoms, putting other birds at risk.”

San Diego also noted that the government does not have a system in place for damages for avian adenovirus, which discourages poultry owners from cooperating with the government.

He said the government should consider putting in place a damages system, similar to the one that has been set up for farms hit by avian flu, to encourage poultry farmers to report unusual deaths on their farms.

BAI chief executive Raildrin G. Morales said that IBH has always been considered a “farmers’ disease”. However, the industry has seen a surge in IBH cases this year.

According to government and private experts, the disease caused by avian adenovirus does not pose a danger to humans because it is not zoonotic.

“Our data shows that we have concerns about IBH. There are quite a few cases,” said Morales, who is also the country’s chief veterinarian.

“This disease [poses] a threat to our poultry industry due to high mortality rates. And all the threats that will affect our crop and chick growth will affect our supply.”

Image credits: Photo from Business Mirror file