Avian Flu Research
Avian Flu Research Abstract
Phillip R. Landis
Location: Moroni, UT
Date: June 2006 through Sept. 2006
Subject: 36 Hubble and White King Squabbing Pigeons
Control Group: 10 Pigeons
Test Group: 26 Pigeons
Introduction: Avian Influenza is common problem for poultry operations in the United States. Most commercial poultry plants are under continuous quarantine because of the very real threat of the introduction of new and mutable strains of Influenza. The Battery Method of commercial poultry production provides the perfect laboratory to study virus mutability, since the environment is not only not natural (requiring the virus to change is modus operendi), but also the close quarters and significantly diminished immune systems of the battery birds provides an excellent pathway for the “skipping of generations.” In other words, what might have taken countless generations to create in the wild, is dramatically facilitated by the Battery Method.
Research Description: A small backyard flock of squabbling pigeons was used for this research. The pigeons were housed in a facility with less than one square foot floor space per bird, with nest boxes attached to the back wall. This population density exceeds that of most Battery Production Facilities and so goes further in concentrating the transmissibility and mutability of virus.
Ten birds were housed separately but with the same approximate living quarters. These were used as controls. The test group consisted of twenty six birds housed as described above.
The Test Group was fed a ration containing “Defense” mixed into the feed for one week prior to the test. The Control Group was fed normally.
Two infected individuals were obtained from a local, wild flock. The birds were demonstrating the classic symptoms of Avian Influenza. One infected bird was placed in each of the pens and the groups were observed for seven days.
Control Group: All of the control birds were infected with the Influenza within three days of exposure. All of the control group birds, including the original vector, died within the seven days of the observation period.
Test Group: Although all of the test group birds demonstrated symptoms of infection, i.e., nasal discharge, coughing, swollen eyes, etc., none of the twenty six test birds died during the observation period. The only bird in the test pen to succumb was the original vector.
Follow up: The Test Group continued to receive Defense and were observed for three months post-infection. During that time, only two birds died – one of egg binding and another became entangled in the mesh wiring of the pen. None of the birds exhibited any symptoms after the initial bout of flu. The hens all went off production and did not become eggy again until the following spring. Molt was as usual.
Postscript: It is interesting to note that, after the research was terminated, and the test group birds were no longer receiving Defense in their feed, the loft was infected by a different wild strain of Influenza which had been transported to the loft by wild starlings. The entire loft was stricken with infection and two thirds of the birds died within the five days after infection. Those that survived never returned to normal production.
Findings: The commercial product “Defense” provided the immune support needed for the closely quartered birds to fight Influenza. The results of the Test Group were not unlike an influenza epidemic that is “winding down.” Individuals became symptomatic but were able to fight off the virus. The results of the Control Group were reminiscent of the first weeks of an epidemic, when the virus is the most dangerous. These observations are compelling and demonstrate a need for greater research into the effects of Beta 1;3, 1;6 glucan use in Influenza Outbreak.