The Laboratory of Avian Medicine & Pathology

avian fluThe Laboratory of Avian Medicine & Pathology has a long history of service to the poultry industry of Pennsylvania, going all the way back to the early career of Dr. Evan L. Stubbs, when the state diagnostic laboratory was located in Philadelphia.

 During this 70-year period, the laboratory was a one-man operation, and the service offered related to the efforts and abilities of a single faculty member. The laboratory has undergone significant growth since 1978 when a residency training program was initiated that provided for a graduate veterinarian to study avian medicine and pathology. This was followed by the addition of a research professor position, a second faculty position for a clinical educator and an additional residency position. Additional technical staff have been added to support the expanded diagnostic, field investigations and research efforts.


 To provide the best possible diagnostic service to Pennsylvania and regional poultry producers, hatcheries, service personnel, feed companies and breeder companies, the Laboratory of Avian Medicine and Pathology has three distinct missions: Service, Teaching and Research.

The University of Pennsylvania poultry diagnostic service is a recognized state and regional resource. Many cases also are brought in from New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware. Submissions include chickens, turkeys, pigeons, waterfowl, game birds and many pet bird cases, which are submitted by regional veterinarians and pet shops. The faculty and residents not only provide diagnostic information, but also advise on the treatment, control and eradication of infectious diseases. A significant amount of time is also devoted to serving on county, state and regional poultry disease advisory committees. Field investigations are done to assist producers with an individual farm problem or the industry in control and prevention of new or emerging diseases. We are also actively involved in eradication and control of AI and LT outbreaks, and in the development and modification of the on going PEQAP Program.

 While the number of diagnostic cases remains fairly level, the complexity of these cases continues to increase. The submission of single, definitive problem cases, while useful for teaching purposes, are being replaced by complex multiple etiologically problems requiring a significant increase in diagnostic effort and sophisticated approaches in problem solving. In many cases, there is a need for field investigation to define the problem and to correlate the lab and field findings. These field/lab investigations provide the best insight to identify disease problems needing new research.

A significant effort is also directed toward serological surveillance for influenza and toward ELISA Flock Profiling for other common poultry diseases. In excess of 30,559 serological tests are done in this laboratory each year.

Field Investigation

 Farm visits are made to define disease problems as identified in the laboratory and by invitation from producers with specific problems. We are also committed to investigate serious disease problems in poultry in Pennsylvania. These have included Mycoplasma gallisepticum, infectious bronchitis, reticuloendotheliosis, avian influenza, Salmonella enteritidis and laryngotracheitis. The laryngotracheitis control program in Pennsylvania is a cooperative effort between our laboratory, industry and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

To provide for the avian medicine teaching program for Penn Vet veterinary students, residents and industry personnel, the Poultry Pathology Laboratory is responsible for teaching one required and two elective courses in avian medicine for veterinary students. The second-year class is required to take a course in Introductory Poultry Medicine. The advanced poultry course is an elective, which usually has 25-40 students. An additional elective permits senior students to spend two full weeks in the diagnostic laboratory. Courses are being developed for the new food animal curriculum.