Poultry immunity, health, and production are several factors that challenge the future growth of the poultry industry.
- Consumer confidence, product quality and safety, types of products, and the emergence and re-emergence of diseases will continue to be major challenges to the current situation and the strategic future of the industry.
- Foodborne and zoonotic diseases are strictly linked with poultry.
Eradication, elimination, and/or control of foodborne and zoonotic pathogens present a major challenge to the poultry industry. In addition, the public health hazards of consuming foods with high antibiotic residues will remain a critical issue. The theory of poultry production described in this review will not be limited to considering disease control.
Rather, it will also incorporate the interconnection of the animals’ health, welfare, and immunity. It is essential to know that chickens are not susceptible to intranasal infection by the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) virus. Nevertheless, the COVID-19 pandemic will affect poultry consumption, transport, and the economics of poultry farming.
It will also take into consideration economic, ethical, and social dimensions, and the sustenance of the accomplishment of high environmental security.
Stockholders, veterinarians, farmers, and all the partners of the chain of poultry production need to be more involved in the current situation and the strategic future of the industry to fulfill human demands and ensure sustainable agriculture. Thus, the present review explores these important tasks.
1. Food Safety
Consumers’ perspectives on the quality and safety of animal products are a continuous issue for the poultry industry and its strategic future. Many foodborne diseases can be transferred through the food chain. In the available literature, Salmonella serovars and Campylobacter spp. are the poultry bacteria more often responsible for human foodborne diseases.
In addition, public health concerns about the development of resistant bacteria due to the abuse of antibiotics as growth promoters and drugs are emerging public health challenges. Controlling zoonotic diseases and foodborne pathogens involves a deep understanding of how microbial pathogens invade and colonize, as well as the circumstances that encourage or stop growth for each strain of the organism.
2. Antibiotic Resistance and Related Problems
Antibiotic tolerance in humans and animals (especially bacteria) is now a common topic, and it is expected to be a continuous public health hazard. Fortification of animals’ diets with antibiotics to promote growth has increased the public’s concern about the safety of animal products and their adverse effects on human health and natural immunity.
The impact of antibiotics on the gut flora leads to enhanced digestion and absorption, and, thus, the availability of nutrients for production due to an improved gut ecosystem that favors beneficial microorganisms. Nonetheless, antibiotics can also amplify the occurrence of drug-tolerant bacteria.
Considering the precautionary principle and experiences that have been gained in some European countries, antibiotics have been banned as “growth-promoting” for food-producing animals since January 2006.
Practical opinions from experience gained in Europe revealed several problems after the ban of antibiotics in poultry nutrition: Growth and feed utilization were impaired, and ammonia levels and wet litter were increased with elevated, footpad dermatitis, thus a general decrease in animal welfare.
In addition, health prospects such as enteric disorders due to clostridial infections and dysbacteriosis increased.
3. Emergence and Re-Emergence of Poultry Diseases
Several factors can hasten and/or prompt the emergence of animal diseases. These factors comprise the development and structure of poultry farming, amplifying global competition and costs of production, and increasing the poultry and poultry products movement worldwide.
The increased movement could also raise the hazard of introducing infections to specific regions that are free from such diseases. Resurgent and re-emerging infections are those that have occurred in the past but are now quickly growing either in a specific geographic area or in the host range.
Infectious diseases and health disorders are mostly connected to negative economic impacts. Several pathogens are implicated as potential reasons for poultry diseases, either individually (mono-causal), in synergy with different other microorganisms (multi-causal), or facilitated by non-infectious causes.
4. The Challenges From the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Virus
SARS-CoV-2 has emerged as systemic a zoonotic disease that poses serious hazards to humans. The Betacoronavirus group includes COVID-19, SARS-CoV, and MERS-CoV. SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus that is highly infectious, even though it is easily destroyed by soap and common disinfectants. Coronaviruses are divided into alpha, beta, gamma, and delta groups.
A wide range of emerging and existing diseases in food-producing animals are caused by coronaviruses. Various poultry body functions and systems—hepatic, renal, respiratory, neurological, and enteric—are adversely affected by coronaviruses, such as infectious bronchitis.
A prevention strategy to control the spread of COVID-19 is a lockdown, blocking transmission pathways, and educating the public to increase their awareness of the disease and decrease trade activities. Based on the literature, COVID-19 transmission can be impacted by some metrological factors, droplets, population density, and direct-indirect interaction. Nevertheless, further research is required.