Virus affecting poultry and egg production


Animal Husbandry sector plays a vital role in ensuring the welfare of the rural population. A majority of farmers depend on Animal Husbandry for their livelihood. Moreover, the Livestock sector provides supplementary employment and a sustainable source of income to many small and marginal farmers. Thus, this is emerging as an essential sector, leveraging the rural economy. Besides, this sector provides a continuous flow of essential food products like milk, meat, eggs besides draught power, manure, raw materials like wool, and hide for industries. With an increase in the production of livestock products, livestock rearing is also considered an avocation with high export potential. As a component of the agricultural sector, Animal Husbandry sector contributes 3.92% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (National Dairy Development Board) and employs 5.5% of the labour force. In recent years, livestock output has grown at a rate of around 4-5% a year. The contribution of the livestock sector to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) is 3.93% and to agriculture and allied activities is 40.99%. The state contributes 5.29% of milk production, 17.10% of egg production and 8.80% of total meat production (including poultry meat) and ranked 9th in milk production, 2nd in egg production and 5th in meat production in India. (25th Annual Report of TANVAC)

To sustain and further improve the production of livestock products, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University ( supports comprehensive veterinary assistance and health cover to all livestock and poultry across the state by producing quality veterinarians. It also extends need-based extension activities through its extension outlets and thereby improves the socio-economic status of the farming community. 


Among the key research done by TANVAC, to enhance farm productivity, it is essential to address the issue of Egg drop syndrome (EDS) – A viral infection in egg-laying hens. It is characterised by the production of soft-shelled and shell-less eggs in apparently healthy birds. It leads to a sudden drop (10-40%) in recorded egg production or a failure to achieve an average peak of output.

The EDS outbreaks can last from 4–10 weeks and can result in a 5–50% drop in egg production. EDS caused by Adenovirus can be transmitted both vertically and horizontally. Adenovirus which causes respiratory diseases is a DNA virus (unlike Corona, which is an RNA virus) and causes fever, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia etc. Eggs and equipment associated with egg collection, such as egg belts and egg trays, are considered significant fomites for virus spread. Diagnosis of EDS can be accomplished by virus detection/isolation or serology. Effective commercial vaccines exist for the prevention of EDS. Prevention and control of the disease are crucial, as there is no treatment available ( 

EDS is prevalent in India at low levels, and there is an urgent need for differential diagnosis from other diseases. TANVAC scientists have come out with a market-ready solution for detection of the presence or absence of antibody to EDS virus in the chicken serum. This involves the principle of ‘Flow-through technology’, which is an extension of the dot – enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), but several-fold more user friendly and rapid. The productivity of egg-laying hens of the farmers can be easily enhanced by detecting EDS and taking remedial measures.

Friends of the Farmers – Kisan Mitr is making available this research finding to take to market by business entities. 

Dr T J Harikrishna,

(Blog curated at Indian CST)  

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