The first injections have been given: 1,800 day-old chicks will receive the highly pathogenic avian influenza vaccine. In the Netherlands, chickens have never before been immunized against avian influenza in field trials. The testing was carried out on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. This is an important step towards mass poultry vaccination against avian influenza viruses.
“Avian influenza is a disease; severely affected the poultry industryFor animals and traders, of course, many wild birds also died. Therefore, we are taking action together to reduce the number of infections in captive poultry,” the minister said. Pete Adema.
Previous research conducted in the country’s laboratories showed that two vector-based vaccines against highly pathogenic avian influenza They can effectively stop the spread of viruses. The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Utrecht University is one of the centers involved in checking whether the two vaccines are effective in practice.
At the beginning of the field trial, the chicks were divided into different groups. It is regularly tested on several chickens under controlled conditions in the laboratory to study its effectiveness against infection. During the testing process, the chickens were strictly monitored and controlled in accordance with new European regulations. The field trial is a scientific study and the product from the vaccinated chickens will not be marketed.
Testing will continue until the third quarter of 2025.First results expected Second quarter of 2024.Vaccine effectiveness under real-world conditions can be different compared to under controlled conditions in the laboratory. For example, in a chicken house, a stable climate is different, animals can be immunized against more diseases, and other bacteria are present that may affect the effectiveness of vaccination. Importantly, these shots not only prevent disease symptoms but most importantly prevent the spread of the avian influenza virus.
The Government strives to carry out vaccination in a responsible manner, taking into account public and animal health and animal welfare. This is why a gradual approach was chosen. In addition to field trials, pilot trials will be conducted to vaccinate more poultry farms in the Netherlands. The pilot is expected to take place on multiple poultry farms in the second quarter of 2024. This is conditional on the vaccine being approved in Europe and the results of the first laboratory tests being known.
The pilot will also closely monitor the impact of vaccination on trade in poultry products and establish a monitoring program. The goal of the program is to detect any contamination in immune farms as quickly as possible, which can still occur despite vaccination. This minimizes the possibility of the virus continuing to spread.
The authorities remind that it remains very important for poultry farmers to remain vigilant and report suspected avian influenza as soon as possible and to continue to implement mandatory health measures, as they are now. Currently, this is the best way to minimize the risk of avian influenza infection.