Egg Industry News and Commentary

  —  Mar 8

Pathogens Influenced by Pollution


A study conducted at the University of Leicester examined the effect of atmospheric pollution on Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae both pathogens found in the respiratory tract.  The interdisciplinary team including geneticists, microbiologists and environmental scientists demonstrated that exposure to carbon and other pollutants changed colony characteristics of the bacteria and contributed to enhanced virulence.


Dr. Julie Morrissey of the University of Leicester noted, “The study shows that bacteria which cause respiratory infections are affected by air pollution, possibly increasing the risk of infection and the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment for these illnesses.”

Although the study is of significance to human epidemiologists, the results point to the deleterious effects of dust, ammonia and other pollutants in the environment of poultry houses.  We are aware that ammonia and extremely low levels of humidity affect the mucosa of the respiratory tract. 

There is an established association between suboptimal levels of ventilation and respiratory infection.  The studies conducted in the UK provide an understanding of how pollutants not only affect the sensitive tissues of the airways, lungs and airsacs but also that dust, ammonia and other contaminants may influence the pathogenicity of bacteria resulting in a synergistic effect.