Duck plague is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by the herpes virus. The control of this disease was identified as one of the biggest challenges to the development of the poultry industry and avian medicine. Ducks infected with the Duck Plague Virus could die without any detectable symptoms or there would be evidence of symptoms like photophobia, ataxia, lowered egg production and watery diarrhea. A vaccine is the most effective way of tackling this deadly disease whose mortality rate could reach up to 100%.
The first case of the Duck plague in India was reported in West Bengal in the year 1963. This affected the duck farming sector severely until the Central government started importing vaccines for the Duck plague from the Netherlands in 1979.
The process of making a vaccine in India for the duck plague was initiated when there was an outbreak of duck plague in Kerala in 2015. Indian Veterinary Research Institute recently developed India’s first indigenous duck plague vaccine. It also developed a diagnostic kit for the protection of chickens. The vaccine is believed to have been developed from the “Holland strain” and has been effective in the prevention of the infection. The 93rd Annual General Meeting of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in New Delhi witnessed the unveiling of the diagnostic kit and the vaccine. The vaccine was developed by Dr Satyabrata Dandapat who is a principal scientist in charge of the immunology section at IVRI.
The process of manufacturing a vaccine is simple and thus it can be produced on a large scale. The vaccine will not only help large poultry houses but also the small and marginal farmers and duck-keepers. Small, landless farmers of West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tripura, Jharkhand and Manipur depend on duck farming for a livelihood.