This is the VOA Special English
The chicken industry loses billions of dollars worldwide because of a disease
called coccidiosis. Coccidiosis is
caused by parasites. The single-cell
organisms infect and destroy cells in the intestines.
Infected chickens lose weight from the disease. Less body weight means
economic losses for producers. The disease spreads from bird to bird through
infectious droppings. Sometimes infected chickens die from the disease. The
infection causes diarrhea, and infected animals may not want to eat. Other kinds
of animals, including cows, also get coccidiosis.
But research by Hyun Lillehoj and her team could offer a new way to reduce
losses from the disease. Hyun Lillehoj is an immunologist in the Agricultural
Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. She works in
the Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. She led a team
of scientists from research centers in South Korea.
She says many producers traditionally use drug treatments and live parasite
vaccines against coccidiosis. But the coccidia parasite is increasingly
resistant to drug treatment. Also, some of the drugs used to treat the disease
are antibiotics. Many people are concerned about antibiotics in animals because
of the increasing problem of drug resistance in humans.
The new method uses proteins from mushrooms. The proteins are called lectins.
The lectins cause an animal's own defense system to release chemicals that fight
the parasites. Mushroom lectin is injected into chicken embryos. The lectin is
also added to drinking water for chickens.
The team used a lectin from a mushroom found mainly in the stumps of black
locust trees. The researchers injected the lectin into eighteen-day-old embryos.
When the chickens came out of their eggs, the scientists infected them with
parasites to test the treatment. The team reported in Poultry Science magazine
last year that the treatment protected the chickens against weight loss. It also
reduced the number of live parasites in their waste.
Hyun Lillehoj and her team are seeking patent protection for the natural
control method they developed. She tells us that she and her team are also
looking for companies to work with to further develop it.
This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Jerilyn Watson.
Transcripts and audio files are at www.unsv.com. I'm Steve Ember.
parasite : 寄生虫