Pfizer Poultry health held its first Partnershipday in Vienna, Austria, in late November.

Over 270 poultry specialists from Europe, the Middle East and Africa attended the event that looked at topics ranging from embryology basics, success factors for in ovo vaccination, the control of Marek’s disease in broiler breeders and the development of a new infectious bronchitis (IB) vaccine after field isolation.

Through a series of purchases, Pfizer has become an increasingly important player in the poultry industry, with sales to the sector rising from $30 million in 2006 to $270 million last year. In his welcome to delegates, Director of Poultry Business for Europe, Africa and the Middle East Herve Le Galludec said Pfizer wanted to build itself to be become the premium partner of the poultry industry.

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Delegates were given a thorough review of the benefits and the difficulties that can occur when moving to in ovo vaccination systems. With modern broiler houses having increasingly high numbers of birds, the possibilities of failing to achieve complete coverage and the man hours required for vaccination increase. Using in ovo technology can tackle both these issues, but for in ovo systems to work well, staff need to be properly trained and receive the correct support.

The emergence of a new variant strain of IB was also detailed. In early 2004, reports emerged in the Netherlands of a new variant causing disease in broilers and pullets. The new strain was similar to one described in China in 1998 as QX IBV. The QX strain spread slowly into Germany and Belgium and then France, and by 2005 it had become the dominant strain in Western Europe, with Spain and the UK remaining free until 2008. The strain is now widespread throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East.