The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association has completed research focused on improving avian influenza testing, encompassing all phases of poultry and egg production and processing.

The objective was to determine the optimal sample collection methods for avian influenza virus detection by virus isolation, commercial antigen immunoassays and real-time RT-PCR. Several aspects of avian influenza virus sample collection were evaluated using swabs from experimentally exposed chickens to simulate clinical samples. Swab type, transport media, swab pooling, transport conditions and media volume were all focused on during the research.

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"Inaccurate results of [avian influenza] testing (either false negative or false positive) can be very costly for the industry," said the researchers. "With the large numbers of samples being processed, optimal testing strategies can save money, both by decreasing the cost of initial testing by using less media or by pooling up to eleven swabs per vial. Pooling more samples could cut pre-slaughter testing costs substantially per flock by reducing the number of tests needed to be run by half and by improving test accuracy."