Animal health company Pfizer has launched the first modified live vaccine in the UK to protect broilers, pullets and breeders against E coli.
The vaccine was initially developed at Weybridge, Surrey, in the 1990s, employing genome technology to produce an avirulent strain of E coli that induces immunity to pathogenic strains of the bacteria.
It was then launched in the USA six years ago as Poulvac E coli by animal health company Fort Dodge, before the company was acquired by Pfizer in 2009. It has now gained EU approval.
E.coli is one of the most significant bacterial pathogens found in chicks during the first week, leading to problems throughout the life of a flock including inferior performance, lack of uniformity and increased mortality.The vaccine is administered as a coarse spray, with the onset of immunity 14 days afterwards, lasting up to 12 weeks. It can be used from day-old up to six weeks before the onset of lay, and has no withdrawal period.
"Poulvac E coli provides broad cross protection against the main serotypes of E coli infecting chickens," said Pfizer poultry technical manager Stuart Andrews. "It is the only modified live, non-reactive vaccine proven to meet the EU regulatory requirements for efficacy and safety."
Field trials in the USA and Morocco have shown it to be effective at lowering mortality and lesions caused by various strains of E coli, as well as reducing dependence on antibiotics.