Identifying Eimeria in ovo
Eimeria are single-celled protozoans that cause
coccidiosis, a major intestinal disease of chickens. Coccidiosis makes it
difficult for the chickens to absorb feed and gain weight, resulting in economic
losses of more than $600 million annually for US poultry
Microbiologist Mark Jenkins and molecular biologist Kate Miska, both with
the ARS Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in Beltsville, MD (US), developed a
method that involves isolating Eimeria oocysts from poultry litter. Combining
this process with PCR (polymerase chain reaction) technology enables researchers
to identify which Eimeria species are present.
The new method will enable poultry producers to quickly determine which of
seven Eimeria species are present on a farm. That knowledge will help them use
just the right combination of vaccine and anticoccidial
treatment to protect their flocks.
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