Avian Influenza (AI) has become an immutable disease in Indonesia for nearly 17 years. Namely, since August 2003 until present day, Indonesia cannot be said to be AI free. Presently, there are two known types of Avian Influenza that attack poultry, namely High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI), which is malignant, and Low Pathogenic Avian Influenza (LPAI), which is not malignant. These two types of AI both cause losses as the HPAI we know so far is the H5N1 subtype Avian Influenza that causes high mortality in poultry, while the other type classified as LPAI circulating in Indonesia is the H9N2 subtype. It is said that due to LPAI being a single attack, this type of AI has a lower mortality rate but can still cause a significant decrease in production.

The losses that arise from Avian Influenza cases are due to the high morbidity and mortality rates in H5N1 cases, a significant decrease in egg production caused by H9N2 cases, mass depopulation of poultry (stamping out), and increased costs for supportive treatment, sanitation, and disinfection of the pen area, water and livestock equipment.
Due to the considerable losses due to AI infection, prevention efforts with Vaccination and early detection are very important, plus changes in clinical symptoms and anatomical pathology of AI are now slightly different from before.

As a poultry vaccine producer in Indonesia, Medion has been developing AI vaccines since 2004 and continues to evaluate and update the quality of its products. Avian Influenza viruses are prone to mutations and are divided into several subtypes based on the antigenicity of the two surface proteins, namely hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). Up to 2012, 16 HA (H1-H15) subtypes and 9 NA (N1-N9) subtypes had been identified in poultry. HA protein is an important part of the virus for attaching to the body of the chicken, while the NA protein is related to the ability of the virus to release virions (replications) from the host cell. The nature of the AI virus, which does not have proof-reading properties, causes mutations.

Due to its mutative nature, every AI vaccine manufacturer regularly monitors the development of the AI virus, one of which takes form in the AI mapping system in Indonesia. Virus mapping is a method for managing overall information through a map of virus changes in the form of branches poured directly into written or visual media. To detect changes in the AI virus, Medion has a complete and adequate biomolecular laboratory facility at the Service and Animal Testing (LAT) Laboratory Unit.

The stages of developing AI vaccines begin with characterizing and mapping the AI virus, followed by the selection of candidate seeds through in vitro and in vivo animal research. One of the in vitro tests is the biomolecular test for the characterization of the AI virus, while the in vivo test is a test of potency and safety (candidate seeds, formulas, and products) on experimental animals. Animal research on AI is done by conducting cross protection tests between AI viruses with the challenge method. Until now, the gold standard of testing for AI vaccines in poultry has been deemed effective by direct challenge testing of target animals. The results of the cross protection test combined with the cross immunity test were analyzed as a whole with the results of the biomolecular test as this would support the identification of the AI vaccine master seed.

The importance of animal research in the development of the AI virus is supported by animal laboratory facilities that meet the Animal Biosafety Level 3 requirements in Animal Testing LAT. In addition, the tested animals used meet the specific pathogen free (SPF) requirements free of fifteen kinds of poultry diseases. Animal research cages must also meet the requirements, such as the building being at a distance from non SPF cages to minimize contamination. Buildings are equipped with insulators or negative pressure air filters. The building is constructed in such a way as to prevent the entry of rodents, wild birds, insects and outsiders who are not personnel.

Before entering the building, animal research cage operators in BSL 3 are not allowed to come into contact with other chickens or with disease agents outside the test as is concern for mutual contamination between tests. The cage operator must shower and change outer clothing to sterile clothes before entering the room in the building. All items that will enter the building must be sterile. Likewise, chicken feed must be sterilized. Drinking water is streamed through an automatic pipe that has been filtered and irradiated with UV. The importance of the engineering team in the animal biosafety level building is significant, especially for controlling and monitoring cage air pressure, feed sterilization systems, and drinking water.

With adequate housing facilities, competent experts, and the support of a team of engineering technicians, Avian influenza vaccine research can be carried out smoothly. Quality products are maintained and humans are kept safe from the dangers of viral pathogens.

The Importance of Animal Research to Support Avian Influenza (AI) Vaccine Development in Poultry

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