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Poultry and Animal Health

The development of an intensive poultry industry in developing countries depends primarily on the ability to establish and develop small and medium-sized commercial operations, and success will require control of poultry health. Economic losses to poultry diseases are currently 10 to 20 percent of the gross value of production in developed poultry industries, and are likely to be higher in developing countries. Capacity to diagnose the causes of disease losses in poultry and to recognize an emerging disease rapidly is essential. Avian pathogens do not recognize national boundaries, only production sites and their disease control circumstances. Commercial poultry sites must therefore have forward defences to exclude pathogens – through biosecurity programmes. Information about this topic is available from this website, through links to information notes on specific subjects.


In developing countries, weaknesses in the biosecurity of production sites and in disease diagnosis predispose emerging pathogens to become endemic disease threats, as has occurred most recently with avian influenza H5N1. Establishing a central poultry health facility/unit is a key step towards developing field and veterinary laboratory capability for disease diagnosis. A unit with designated functions in diagnostic services, disease intelligence and field extension outreach can drive the delivery of integrated avian health-in-production services to all sectors of poultry production. A poultry health network involving both the public and the private sectors in close collaboration will likely prove to be the best approach. Services must be operated on a fee-for-service basis and be cost-effective for users. A core function of a network is ensuring viable interfaces with village (family) poultry production, as this is the sector with the majority of poultry stocks in most developing countries.