Live Eimeria vaccines have been widely used in poultry for more than 50 years now and we already described the differences among each other in a previous post (Part I). Since the 80s, attempts to develop next-generation recombinant coccidiosis vaccines have led to the identification of several candidate antigens (Blake et al. 2017). In spite of this, no recombinant Eimeria vaccine has been brought to market so far. So has anything new come to market since the 1950’s?
The reality is that nothing more than classic live Eimeria vaccines has been developed since the 1950s when the first coccidiosis vaccine reached the market. At first glance, if we think about all the other vaccines that have been brought to market in the meantime – both viral and bacterial -, and given that recombinant vaccines have been available for almost a decade now, it seems that research in the field of Eimeria vaccines has failed to keep pace.
Eimeria vaccines have been widely used in poultry since the early 1950’s and their advantages have been clearly shown. In spite of this, there are some differences between them -attenuation, composition, administration route-, but they all consist of live parasites that need to undergo two and sometimes three entire life cycles inside the host gut in order to trigger the immune system and subsequently establish full protective immunity.
There are both live non-attenuated and attenuated Eimeria vaccines on the market. Live non-attenuated vaccines consist of parasites that still maintain their natural virulence. Control of the development of adverse reactions (coccidiosis disease) is achieved by using low numbers of oocysts in vaccine preparations and in some cases even by the use of anticoccidials to control the excessive spread of vaccine strains. This strategy of “controlled exposure” allows protective immunity to develop before the contamination of litter with non-attenuated oocysts becomes severe.
Nowadays there is an increasing demand for products that come from animals raised without antibiotics. The concerning thing about antibiotic resistance and the alarming situation with the superbug is that it increases the demand for these distinctive products. Problems such as coccidiosis in broilers and maintaining productive efficiency have to be taken into account.
In broiler production, coccidiosis can be controlled through the use of inonophores. Ionophores are antimicrobials and yet they are used in many countries with antibiotic reduction policies. The reason for this is that there are no public health concerns regarding this type of product. Despite this, it can (and it will) induce resistance in microbials, such as Eimeria, and will have an impact on animal health and production results as consequence.
The most significant use of antibiotics for broiler production is for the prevention of coccidiosis in poultry (ionophore coccidiostats are one type of antibiotic), and for the treatment or prevention of necrotic enteritis.
The world is connected and this connection generates millions and millions of data. We currently generate data every time we are online whether it’s by using our smartphones, GPS, social networks, when we buy things, when we go to work or when we communicate with each other, among other things.
It could be said that we leave tracks in the form of digital data due to almost every activity we carry out in our daily lives. It is predicted that by 2020, there will be 50 trillion devices connected to the Internet. So what about the poultry sector? The sector is also connected and it is becoming increasingly so. In industry, and particularly in the poultry farming industry, this digital transformation is also taking place.
For example, there are increasingly more devices being used in farms and hatcheries that have humidity sensors, sensors to regulate food, air quality control sensors, sensors for biosecurity, etc. Many of these devices are connected to the Internet and generate digital data on a daily basis. A clear example of this is with Hipraspray®, the vaccination device for COCCIDIOSIS AND RESPIRATORY DISEASES IN POULTRY which is connected to the Internet and provides 100% traceability through its HIPRAlink® software.
A series of press releases by prominent food chains and wholesalers demanding poultry that has been raised ‘without antibiotics’ has caused a quick paradigm shift in broiler production towards the reduction or elimination of antibiotics and the control of pathologies such as coccidiosis in poultry.
Poultry labelled ‘raised without antibiotics’ are distinctive products that more and more often are found in restaurants and supermarkets. However, making this type of product is a challenge for companies. One of the obstacles to raising chickens without antibiotics is coccidiosis in poultry.
The importance of information and data quality in any production process is no longer a matter for debate. Poultry production is no exception to this and we are increasingly seeing how the use of technology and relevant information is on the rise. The vaccination process and, more specifically, the control of Eimeria should form part of this new information model.
In the 2016 ‘Power of Meat’ survey, one of the emerging trends was consumers’ increasing awareness regarding traceability and transparency in the production process of the meat they consume.
There is a general consensus that consumers in the future will be more sensitive towards where their meat comes from and treatments given to animals used for meat production. For example, the same survey from 2017 stated that “antibiotic-free” was the most highly valued specific characteristic for poultry meat consumers ahead of others such as “organic” or “natural”.
A vaccine dose does not depend on body weight: the mechanism of action of vaccines is different to that of antibiotics and, as a result, the dose does not depend on the body weight of the target animal. When considering vaccines against coccidiosis in poultry, the dose is made up of a suspension of sporulated oocysts of different species of Eimeria.
In this suspension, the oocysts are not evenly distributed unless it is mixed thoroughly. If, in addition to this, the dose is reduced, the chance that the chicks will receive all the oocysts of every species decreases exponentially.
A vaccine does not have to be distributed throughout the body and the vaccine components (antigen and adjuvant) do not act directly on the pathogen. In general, the activity of vaccines starts with a rapid and local innate response depending on the route of administration.
It is our responsibility to search for and choose the right tools to deal with coccidiosis in poultry with current consumer preferences tending towards the purchase of products from livestock grown using sustainable methods.
Because of worldwide concern about drug resistance associated with the immoderate use of antibiotics in poultry production, there has been a major effort to find alternative treatment and methods of prevention.
One of the most worrying problems in poultry production is coccidiosis and how to deal with it without using antibiotics. It is a challenge that, we know, lies in prevention. Furthermore, it is impossible to think in terms of prevention and not to link this to sustainable action.