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Poult Enteritis and Mortality Syndrome

The faculty and staff of the colleges of  Agriculture and Life Sciences and Veterinary Medicine at NC State University are working with poultry producers, governments, and other institutions to refine their partnership in order to offer a united front against emerging and reemerging diseases.

Our role is in the education of veterinarians, continuing education of animal-related professions, and research into the causes and prevention of diseases. We are also dedicated to inform animal and poultry owners and producers about health and welfare issues of interest to them. We particularly understand and value the contributions that poultry make to the health of people and the economic well being of North Carolina and the nation.

The efforts to understand and control poult enteritis mortality syndrome (PEMS) are an important part of our interactions and partnership with the poultry industry.

Understanding and Controling PEMS 

Extensive laboratory and field research has been carried out in this effort to understand and control PEMS. The U.S. Poultry and Egg Association was the first organization to provide support for PEMS research. This support continued after the PEMS Task Force was created and the State of North Carolina provided funds requiring an industry match. These research funds, with contributions from allied industries, are supporting several scientists in Georgia, Ohio, New York, and Indiana, in addition to scientists in several departments at NC State. These collaborative efforts helped establish the following information about PEMS:

  • The occurence of turkey coronaviruses in some, but not all, outbreaks.
  • The infectious nature of the disease.
  • Proof that PEMS is a specific disease and not just a severe form of poult enteritis complex.
  • The recognition of at least two clinical types of the disease; a severe form associated with high mortality followed by stunting (“spiking mortality”), and another, less severe form, characterized by lower mortality followed by stunting.
  • The value of using sentinel poults as a tool for disease investigations.
  • The absence of public health or food safety problems associated with PEMS.
  • The importance of biosecurity and good management practices in controlling the disease.

Collaborations between the NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine faculty and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture staff led to the transfer of seroloic testing for turkey coronavirus to the state diagnostic laboratory system in early 1998. One of the aims of the research currently underway is the development of improved diagnostic tests to determine the status of coronavirus infection in turkey flocks.

Final Report, June 27, 2002 

Many investigators have contributed to research efforts related to poult enteritis and mortality syndrome (PEMS) since it was first recognized in 1991. PEMS devastated the North Carolina poultry industry in the early 1990s. In 1995 a PEMS task force was convened to coordinate PEMS research. The State of North Carolina and several commercial turkey companies contributed funds. The task force reviewed research proposals and provided funds to support research at several different universities.

In 2001 the Dean of the North Carolina State University CVM, Dr. Oscar Fletcher, invited several PEMS researchers and other interested people to attend a meeting to discuss the results of PEMS research and to determine strategies for future research. The result was a report containing a summary of the research results and future research needs, written reports provided by the investigators who were funded by the PEMS task force, and the resulting abstracts and publications. A great deal of information was generated from the PEMS task force funds including:

  • 51 Peer Reviewed Articles
  • 10 Trade Journal Articles
  • 3 Book Chapters
  • 130 Abstracts Presented at Scientific Meetings
  • 2 PhD Dissertations
  • 1 Masters Thesis

Contributors 

  • Arun Bahl (Monroe, NC)
  • H. John Barnes (NCSU – CVM)
  • Tom Brown (University of Georgia – CVM)
  • Donna Carver (NCSU – Poultry Science)
  • Van Dao (NCSU – CVM)
  • Frank Edens (NCSU – Poultry Science)
  • Oscar Fletcher (NCSU – CVM)
  • Marion Garcia (Pilgrim’s Pride Corp.)
  • Eric Gonder (Goldsboro Milling Co.)
  • Jesse Grimes (NCSU – Poultry Science)
  • James Guy (NCSU – CVM)
  • Gerry Havenstein (NCSU – Poultry Science)
  • Daniel Karunakaran (Shady Brook Farms)
  • David Ley (NCSU – CVM)
  • Linnea Newman (Chestertown, NY)
  • Andrea Miles (NCSU – CVM)
  • Somsak Pakpinyo (NCSU – CVM)
  • Muquarrab Qureshi (NCSU – Poultry Science)
  • John Radu (Alpharma Animal Health, Inc.)
  • Don Reynolds (Iowa State University)
  • David Rives (Prestage Farms)
  • Y.M. Saif (Ohio State University – OARDC)
  • Tom Schat (Cornell University)
  • Stacey Schultz-Cherry (University of Georgia)
  • Mike Stringham (NCSU – Entomology)
  • Jean-Pierre Vaillancourt (NCSU – CVM)
  • Dennis Wages (NCSU – CVM)

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