World poultry congress enriches AVMA convention

Critical issues include poultry welfare, disease control policies, and improved vaccines
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More than 750 veterinarians and scientists from around the world with specialties in poultry diseases converged in Denver to participate in the XIII Congress of the World Veterinary Poultry Association. This congress was an integral part of the 140th AVMA Annual Convention and was co-sponsored by the AVMA and the American Association of Avian Pathologists.

Following a welcome reception at the Adam's Mark Hotel, the congress opened July 20 with ceremonies in the Colorado Convention Center. Dr. Syed Naqi, president of the AAAP, welcomed the delegates. Dr. Joe M. Howell, president of the AVMA, also greeted the delegates and presented a gift to WVPA president, Dr. Erhard Kaleta of the Justus-Leibig University in Giessen, Germany.

Dr. Kaleta addressed the opening ceremony with comments that this is a critical time for poultry diseases in the world. He said that poultry contributes to the human food supply and plays an increasingly important role in human nutrition.

Dr. Kaleta challenged the veterinary profession to take leadership in providing science-based information on issues in poultry welfare. Other critical issues include policies for disease control based on mass destruction of susceptible animals and the need for improved vaccines, including those based on genetically modified organisms. Dr. Kaleta explained the role of the WVPA in providing access to information through Web sites and newsletters that will guide policy and pathologists on poultry disease control.

Other key players in the WVPA are secretary-treasurer Dr. Ursula Heffels-Redmann of Germany; vice presidents Drs. J.L. Spencer of Canada and A.A. Sami Ahmed of Egypt; the editor of the journal Avian Pathology, Dr. David Cavanagh from England; and the editor of the newsletter Aerosols, Dr. Carol Cardona of Davis, Calif. Official branches of the WVPA exist in 33 countries, each with a corresponding secretary. Dr. Robert J. Eckroade has been serving dual roles as corresponding secretary of the U.S. branch of the WVPA and secretary-treasurer of the AAAP.

Delegates were treated to 14 keynote lectures, 147 oral presentations, and in excess of 250 poster presentations divided between two sessions. The congress featured presentations and discussions on many important diseases of commercial chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, and other poultry.

In the first of several keynote lectures during the congress, Dr. Dick Jones of Liverpool, England, reviewed progress on three important respiratory diseases—infectious bronchitis, infectious laryngotracheitis, and avian pneumovirus. He indicated that improved control of all three diseases is critical and depends on better vaccines and strategies for their application.

Another keynote speaker, Dr. John Glisson of Athens, Ga., discussed the application of vaccines for the control of Mycoplasma gallisepticum infection and the reduction in rates of egg transmission from breeder hens. At least some of the important bacterial diseases, including Pasteurella multocida infections, can also be controlled with vaccines. Vaccines rarely provide complete control, however, and other strategies are needed.

On July 21, Dr. Vladimir Zelnik delivered the Houghton Lecture, a recognition presented by the WVPA to an outstanding young scientist. Dr. Zelnik has, until recently, been with the Institute of Virology, Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava, Slovakia, but is currently employed by Lohmann Animal Health in Cuxhaven, Germany. He has contributed pioneering research on the molecular biology of Marek's disease in chickens. In his lecture, Dr. Zelnik explained how the advances that were derived from virus sequencing and bacterial artificial chromosome technology allow the production of genetically modified viruses, some of which may have value as vaccines.

Dr. Peter M. Biggs of St. Ives, England, presented the Lasher History Lecture on the beginnings of the WVPA. Dr. Biggs—a past president of the WVPA, former director of the Houghton Poultry Research Station, and a distinguished scientist—discussed the events surrounding the formation of the WVPA in 1959 and recounted highlights of its first 25 years.

The AAAP recognized several members with awards July 21 at its annual banquet. They will be acknowledged in the Oct. 1 JAVMA News with the reports of affiliated groups that met in Denver. In a major structural reorganization, the business office of the AAAP will be transferred on Aug. 15 from the University of Pennsylvania to the University of Georgia, under the leadership of Dr. Charles Hofacre. Dr. Robert J. Eckroade and Kimberly Sprout were thanked for their many years of service to the AAAP.

Food safety issues were addressed July 22 in two keynote lectures. Dr. Paul McMullin discussed the European experience following the removal of growth-promoting antimicrobials from poultry feed and the success of control programs for Salmonella enteriditis on poultry farms. Dr. John Maurer presented studies on the acquisition of antimicrobial resistance by Salmonella under laboratory and field conditions. At the WVPA banquet, held that evening, Dr. A.A. Olkowski of Canada received the Bart Rispens Award, recognizing the best paper published in the journal Avian Pathology during 1999-2000: "Cardiac index, oxygen delivery, and tissue oxygen extraction in slow and fast growing chickens, and in chickens with heart failure and ascites: a comparative study."

In Denver, AVMA program chair Dr. Dennis McCurnin commented, "The AVMA has been quite pleased to have the World Veterinary Poultry Association join us this week; it enriched our convention." The closing ceremony, July 23, featured accolades to the many persons who helped with the organizational details. Also, Dr. Ahmet Ergun, president of the Turkish Branch of the WVPA, extended an invitation to attend the next congress, in Istanbul in 2005.

According to Dr. Richard Witter, chairperson of the congress committee, this was a rare opportunity for the AVMA to host a major international congress as part of its annual convention.