Death caused by hyperthermia

Death caused by hyperthermia. This questionable method has been developed as a last resort option in case of a large-scale outbreak of High Pathogen Avian Influenza in the UK. Even in EU Regulation EU 1099/2009 there is room for countries to use this kind of methods, when compliance is likely to affect human health or significantly slow down the process of eradication of a disease. (EU 1099/2009; article 18, under 3).

Hyperthermia means that the cause of death is overheating the shed of the birds. The normal core body (CB) temperature of a bird must remain within a narrow range around a mean value of 41.4°C if its welfare is to be safeguarded.

If the core body temperature rises above 45°C most poultry will die quickly. To ensure VSD is effective the temperature in the house must rise to 40°C or greater and remain at that level. Maintaining a relative humidity of at least 75% will help speed the onset of death through hyperthermia.

This DEFRA document provides procedures and instructions on using Ventilation Shutdown (VSD) as an emergency method of killing of poultry for disease control purposes.

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In ovo sex determination

In Poultry News edition 2/2013, Lohmann, as one of the world largest poultry producers, explains their vision on a great ethical problem: Routine culling of day-old male chicks in the hatchery.

This overview describes the quest finding alternative solutions that is truly a big challenge for breeding companies, science and hatcheries.

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Food Additive May Prevent H7N9 From Infecting Host Cells

As China continues to battle an outbreak of avian influenza A (H7N9), a team of researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine are among those looking for ways to intervene and bring an end to a disease that has so far killed more than 20 percent of those it has infected. The university team, led by Michael Caffrey, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular genetics at IUC, has found a common food additive that can block a strain of the avian influenza virus from infecting healthy cells. They are now reporting this new discovery in a published paper in the online journal PLoS ONE.

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Chinese researchers develop H7N9 flu vaccine

Source: Shanghai, Saturday, October 26, 2013. HANGZHOU, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) — Chinese researchers announced Saturday they had successfully developed the vaccine for the H7N9 bird flu virus, after the flu strain had left more than 130 people infected, with 45 fatalities reported.

Shu Yuelong, director of the Chinese National Influenza Center, said this is the first influenza vaccine ever developed by Chinese scientists.
The vaccine has provided important technical support to battle the new flu strain, making contribution to the H7N9 flu virus epidemic control all over the world, said Shu, also director of the WHO Collaborating Center for Reference and Research on Influenza.

The vaccine was jointly developed by the First Affiliated Hospital under the School of Medicine of the Zhejiang University, Hong Kong University, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Food and Drug Control, and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.
China reported the world’s first human case for H7N9 bird flu infection in March. As of Friday, a total of 136 people were confirmed to have been infected with the virus, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission. Of the infected, 45 died, representing a fatality rate of 33.1 percent.

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Drug Widens Immunity to Flu

An immune suppressive drug can unexpectedly help immunized mice fight off many strains of flu. Published in The Scientist, by Ed Yong | October 20, 2013.The immunosuppressant drug rapamycin paradoxically helped to protect mice against a diverse range of influenza viruses after the animals were vaccinated against just one flu strain.

Rachael Keating from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital said it seems that rapamycin steers immune cells away from producing antibodies that strongly target a particular flu strain, in favor of those that block a wide variety of strains. Her results, published today (20 October) in Nature Immunology, could help in the long-running race to develop a universal flu vaccine.

There are many subtypes and strains of influenza, which evolve at great speed and often hybridize into entirely new strains. Current flu vaccines cannot protect against all of these strains, which forces scientists to try and predict those most likely to cause problems in the coming year. This imperfect system often leaves people unprotected against unexpected strains, let alone emerging ones that have the potential to cause pandemics. This has driven an intense search for a universal vaccine, and the new study could further help researchers working toward that goal.

In 2009, a different group unexpectedly showed that rapamycin boosted the immune response against a rodent virus in mice by increasing the quantity and quality of CD8 T-cells, which destroy infected cells. Inspired by this discovery, Keating showed that the drug provides the same benefits against flu.

She and her colleagues gave mice a dose of rapamycin while immunizing them against a strain of seasonal H3N2 flu, finding that the rodents could also ward off lethal doses of other strains, including H1N1, H5N1, and the emerging H7N9.

To the team’s surprise, CD8+ T cells were not responsible for rapamycin’s positive effects. Instead, the drug seemed to work by affecting B cells, which make antibodies, and CD4 T cells, which help in this process.

Over the course of a flu infection, B cells typically change the class of antibodies that they produce. They also fine-tune those antibodies into a narrower set, which bind very strongly to variable regions of flu viruses—regions that are usually specific to different strains. This produces an immune response that efficiently deals with a single strain, but is ill-equipped to protect against others.

“Rapamycin prevents that narrowing,” explained senior author Maureen McGargill. In treated mice, the B cells produced a more diverse repertoire of antibodies, which targeted different parts of the incoming viruses, including regions that are conserved across many strains. This provided protection against flu viruses regardless of strain.

Such cross-reactive antibodies bind relatively weakly to their targets and, under normal circumstances, would probably get outcompeted by antibodies with a narrower focus but higher affinity. “For whatever reason, antibodies to the conserved regions are very rare,” said McGargill. That’s why humans do not naturally become immune to all flu strains after just encountering one.

Rapamycin blocks mTOR, a receptor protein that affects the production of B-cells and the switch between antibody classes. How exactly this leads to a wider array of antibodies is unclear, and the team is now working to unpick the details.

“It’s interesting that it is possible to skew the response towards more broadly cross-reactive antibodies, in mice, in a particular situation,” said Sarah Gilbert, an immunologist from the University of Oxford who was not involved in the work. “[But] it is very difficult to understand how the findings in this paper relate to vaccinating humans.”

The problem is that current flu vaccines use inactivated flu viruses, while McGargill’s team used live viruses. The researchers said that their viruses—which were either inactivated at body temperature or injected into parts of the body where they cannot reproduce—effectively acted like a vaccine. But “if they wanted to see what happens with flu vaccines, they could have used a flu vaccine,” said Gilbert. “This will stimulate more research but it is not something that will easily translate into anything that can be tested in humans,” she added.

“We’re definitely not advocating that we use rapamycin [in humans],” said McGargill. However, her group’s discovery could point to other ways of achieving the same effect, perhaps by manipulating the immune system into producing more cross-reactive antibodies. “Maybe instead of trying to enhance the immune response, we need to dampen it a little bit, and allow it to be more diverse,” she added.

R. Keating et al., “The kinase mTOR modulates the antibody response to provide cross-protective immunity to lethal infection with influenza virus,” Nature Immunology, doi:10.1038/ni.2741, 2013.

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Historical overview of male day-old chicks as animal feed

In 2013, more than 150 million chicks per year, male day-old chicks are used as high quality and nutritious ingredient on the diet of hundreds of species of wild animals that are held in zoos and breading centers.

In the past 30 years, the use of day-old chicks have been changed, from animal waste to high-end food for birds of pray, cranes and other animals living in zoos and fauna parks around the world. This change has become possible first, after the introduction of techniques to kill the animals without unnecessary stress or pain.

With the use of technology, people daring to think out of the box, and the entrepreneurial courage of only a view people who dared to stick out their neck for animal welfare in a time that it was absolutely not common to do so, the majority of all male day-old chicks that are produced in Europe today are being treated with respect during slaughter, completely in line with the EU directives EU 1099/2009 and EU 1069/2009.

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China Reports New H7N9 Case, US Vaccine Trial May Have An Answer

By: Lawrence LeBlond for China’s National Health and Family Planning Center (NHFPC) has notified the World Health Organization (WHO) of a new laboratory-confirmed case of human infection with H7N9 avian influenza A. This is the first new case to be identified since August 11, 2013. The patient is a 35-year-old man from Zhejiang Province who was admitted to a hospital on October 8 and is in critical condition. The man, with the surname Liu, tested positive for the virus at the Zhejiang Province Center for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a statement. The NHFPC has also announced that a patient from Hebei previously confirmed with H7N9 has died.

To date, the WHO has been informed of 136 laboratory-confirmed human cases of H7N9. The mortality rate is currently about 33 percent, as 45 patients have so far died from this disease. Three patients remain hospitalized and 88 more have been discharged since the first cases began popping up in April. Currently there exists no sustainable human-to-human transmission of H7N9. According to the WHO, the Chinese government has continued to strictly monitor the viral outbreak and is taking a number of prevention and control measures, including strengthening of epidemic surveillance and analysis, deploying of medical treatment, conducting public risk communication and information distribution, strengthening international cooperation and exchanges, and continuing scientific research on the H7N9 virus.


While China continues its strict stance on H7N9 monitoring, an American medical research team is working to bring avian influenza vaccinations to the table. Researchers at University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY are currently recruiting 48 participants for an isolation-style study to test live-virus bird flu vaccines. The study will focus on two distinct schedules of nasal vaccine and boosters, hoping to give experts an idea of which approach is best at priming the immune system against H7N9.

“In a pandemic, time is of the essence,” said study investigator John Treanor, MD, an internationally known flu expert who heads the University’s Vaccine Research Unit. “While no cases of H7N9 have yet been identified in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control is following the situation closely and taking precautionary action, developing and testing a candidate vaccine in case it was ever needed.” For the study, Treanor and colleagues will assign study members to one of two groups:

Group one will receive intranasal vaccine, consisting of a live, weakened version of the H7N9 virus. Participants in this group will spend 12 days in an isolation facility and then several weeks later be given a booster shot of inactivated H7N9 in an outpatient setting.

Group two would follow a similar schedule, but instead would receive an additional dose of intranasal vaccine 28 days after the initial dose is given. Members of this group will also be required to spend an additional 12 days in isolation after the follow-up dose, and then, several weeks later, a H7N9 booster would be administered in the outpatient setting.

The researchers will monitor closely how strongly each of the two vaccine schedules triggers production of protective proteins – antibodies – in the participants. The team hopes that the findings will offer a new approach in battling H7N9 infections. The information from this study could help the CDC better prepare for a pandemic of avian influenza A. Treanor and his colleagues are currently looking for volunteers for the new study. They are asking for healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 49 who may be interested to sign up. Participants should be non-pregnant, non-asthmatic, and have no allergies to eggs. They noted that any patients who have participated in previous avian flu vaccine trials are not eligible and participants must agree to not travel to the Southern Hemisphere in the two weeks prior to initial vaccination. Participants who complete all study components will be paid between $2,475 and $3,990, depending on how many live vaccine doses/isolation stays are completed.


As for the H7N9, the WHO does not currently advise special screening at points of entry, nor does it currently recommend any travel or trade restrictions in China. In its latest global flu update, which was released yesterday, the WHO reported that flu activity is currently low in most regions of tropical Asia, except for Hong Kong, which has recently seen an influx in H3N2 cases. The UN-operated health agency has also noted that flu activity remained at inter-seasonal levels in southern China, though the number of flu virus detections was higher this year compared to last year.

Source: Lawrence LeBlond for – Your Universe Online

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Impact assesment EU 1099/2009 January 19, 2012

Andrea Gavinelli, Directorate General for Health and Consumers, EU Commission: Summary.

Animal Welfare is being accorded an increasingly important role in today’s civil society. There is a growing expectation from consumers worldwide for animals used in food production to be well treated. Science has also more clearly defined the link of animal welfare with the increase of efficiency in production, animal health, securing sustainability, and ethical concerns.

The results of several social investigations and market analysis carried on in the European Union confirm that the farming of animals is no longer viewed by European consumers simply as a means of food production. Instead it is seen as fundamental to other key social goals such as food safety and quality, safeguarding environmental protection, sustainability, enhancing the quality of life in rural areas while ensuring that animals are properly treated.

While in the past animal welfare policy was often driven public concerns about specific topics the Commission adopted in 2006 a more comprehensive strategy for this policy area.

The first Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006-2010 takes into account all the concerns as well as the globalisation of animal production. It defines the direction of the Community policies and the related activities for the coming years to continue to promote high animal welfare standards in the EU and internationally considering animal welfare as business opportunities while respecting the ethical and cultural dimension of the issue. A major effort is ongoing today to simplify the legislative framework and to reshape it in order to obtain in the future a more powerful tool to support European farm business.

The scientific study of animal welfare is a relatively young discipline and has developed over the last three decades and continues to expand to meet new challenges and new possibilities.

The scientific knowledge could play an important role facilitating the ethical and political decisions about animal care.

The vision is to integrate the farming of animals in good health and welfare conditions with the respect of several other issues such as the safety of the products and the respect for the environment: this integrated approach will bring a real benefit for the global society.

The overall aim of the European Commission’s initiative is to initiate a broad public debate on animal welfare which will allow shaping a coherent and widely accepted policy.

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Dual purpose chickens economic feasibility

The production of eggs and poultry meat is specialized. There are genotypes for egg production and for meat. The males of layer breeds are in general killed as one-day-olds. Killing such young animals raises ethical questions. A dual-purpose chicken, suited for both the production of eggs and meat, would prevent the killing of day-old males.

The conclusion of this report is, that dual-purpose chickens might serve a niche market, but a total shift to dual purpose chickens, to solve the problem of killing day-old males, is with regard to the environmental burden and economics not feasible.

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Killing one-day-old male chicks, do we have alternatives?

Opinions of ‘the public’ about alternatives to the killing of one-day-old chicks. Research for the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Food Quality October 2008.
Throughout the world, male chicks from layer breeds are killed just after hatching, as they are not profitable as regards the production of meat. The Dutch and European parliaments have insisted on research into possible alternatives to the killing of day-old chicks.

In the present study we have investigated Dutch public opinion on the acceptability of these alternatives by means of discussions in so- called focus groups and via a public survey through computer-aided personal interviews (CAPI).
To inform the participants about the subject, a film was made to explain the current practice and introduce a number of technological alternatives that would prevent development of male embryos, as well as the possibility of creating a ‘dual-purpose chicken’ that would allow male chicks to be used for meat production.
The topics addressed in the study included the willingness of participants to pay a premium for eggs and chicken meat, were it necessary to prevent killing of male chicks. Focus-group discussions showed that many participants were unaware of the current practice of killing male chicks, and were shocked by this practice.
However, once informed, the participants seemed able to take various considerations into account and rank the alternatives. The alternatives ‘looking into the fresh egg (to determine sex of the egg and not incubate male eggs)’, and ‘dual-purpose chickens’ scored best out of all the possible alternatives, and higher than maintaining the current practice. ‘Influencing the laying hens such that they produce fewer male eggs’ scored the same as maintaining the current practice.
The use of ‘genetic modification to facilitate looking into the fresh egg’ scored only slightly lower than maintaining the current practice. Alternatives whereby developing male embryos die, or are killed, scored lower than maintaining the current practice.

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