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Newcastle disease and Fowl Pox are amongst the most important constraints on the production of poultry in rural communities of many low to middle-income countries, and clearly efforts must be geared towards educating and involving farmers to control these diseases.

To provide a vaccination approach for Fowl Pox and Newcastle disease, that can be easily adopted by small-scale farmers, a field study was conducted by GALVmed together with the Open University of Tanzania in 2018. The researchers investigated the immune responses of chickens to Fowl Pox and Newcastle disease vaccines, when administered at the same time by needle-free routes. For this approach, the Fowl Pox vaccine was administered via feather follicles and the Newcastle disease vaccine via eye. The feather follicle method is long known and also used to vaccinate pigeons against pigeon pox. Basically, a group of feathers is plucked from a bird’s thigh and a vaccine-dipped brush rubbed inside the openings of the exposed holes of the feather follicles. The birds are then inspected 7 to 10 days later for “takes”. “Takes” are nodules that occur at the inoculation site and indicate successful vaccination. The study results showed that the non-invasive concurrent vaccination is safe and induces immunisation levels to Fowl Pox and Newcastle disease that are as good as to vaccinations alone.

Following the study in Tanzania, GALVmed aimed to confirm if the same approach works in a different geographic setting in South-East Asia. However, this was not as straightforward as we hoped for. Amongst the complications we faced between 2018 to 2021 were: a devastating cyclone, interruptions due to local elections, difficult terrain, seasonal challenges, and last but not least the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet against all odds and obstacles, GALVmed in partnership with Heifer Project Nepal have now successfully completed the field work in twelve rural communities in Goganpani in Dhading District in the Bagmati Province of Nepal. The team is currently analysing the data and hopes to publish their findings as soon as possible, wishing that the needle-free immunisation methods will empower small-scale poultry producers by making them less dependent on para-vets or vets for Newcastle disease and Fowl Pox vaccinations.

Village level project orientation meeting at Kattalpauwa

Blog written by Kristin Stuke as part of the Poultry Health Campaign