Tracking Chemicals that Control Coccidiosis in Poultry
By Linda McGraw
September 20, 2000
Antibodies developed by Agricultural Research Service scientists
could become the basis for a test to help poultry producers protect birds
against a major chicken disease, coccidiosis, while reducing the potential for
antibiotic residues in poultry.
Each year, coccidiosis costs U.S. poultry producers an estimated
$600 million in treatment and low carcass weights. Nicarbazin, a
pharmacological agent that controls coccidiosis in broiler production, is
usually added to the chickens feed. Nearly all commercial poultry feed
contains some type of medication.
The problem has been a lack of a method to determine the
appropriate nicarbazin levels that need to be added to the feed. Producers
could be paying for feed with inadequate levels of nicarbazin, or for feed with
higher levels that may result in residues in meat products.
Now, Ross C. Beier, an ARS chemist in College Station, Texas, has
developed antibodies for nicarbazin. The antibodies will first be utilized in
an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) kit.
After successfully developing the ELISA kit for use in the
Diagnostic Systems Corporation in St. Joseph, Mich., will evaluate the
antibodies as the basis for an easy-to-use field test. ARS has applied for a
patent on the antibodies, which were developed under a Cooperative Research and
Development Agreement (CRADA) with IDS.
An ELISA test would allow for direct checks for appropriate levels
of nicarbazin in animal feed. This would ensure that the poultry received the
necessary dose to prevent coccidiosis, but not more. It will also help
USDA Food Safety and Inspection
Service (FSIS) officials be sure that producers have complied with federal
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
regulations preventing residues in meats.
The ELISA kit could be available for use by the quality control
departments of feed manufacturers by the spring of 2001. ARS is the chief
scientific research agency for the U.S.
Department of Agriculture.
Scientific contact: Ross C. Beier, ARS
Food and Feed Safety Research Unit,
College Station, Texas, phone (979) 260-9411, fax (979) 260-9332,