Index > Division of Animal Medicine
Division of Animal Medicine

The Division of Animal Medicine researches the following areas: animal vaccine development; enhancing meat and poultry hygiene and safety; surveillance of microbiology and drug resistance; developing animal disease diagnostic techniques; epidemiology of swine serum and animal model for human disease. A target-specific Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) subunit vaccine was developed and approved for field trial testing. The Division has recently completed several important meat-inspection and safety projects, including inspection of meat processing plants, inspector training and meat product microbe and residue surveillance. Several diagnostic techniques have been developed for animal diseases. Current serum epidemiology projects deal with PRRS and swine influenza virus (SIV). The model of non-invasive technique for measuring blood pressure in pigs has also been developed. This year, the Division performed 21 risk assessments of imported animal products. Finally, 40 suggestions regarding amendments beneficial to Taiwan were made and forwarded to the OIE by animal disease specialists in the Division.

  • Animal Vaccine Development
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      • Using reverse vaccinology and molecular biotechnology, the core technique for a target-specific subunit vaccine has been developed and patented. Previously, a novel PRRS vaccine invented by the Division was awarded USA and Taiwan patents. The Division transferred this technique platform to HealthBanks Biotech Company by a contract-out agreement. In 2008, HealthBanks Biotech Company also invested 120 million TWD to build the first cGMP plant producing animal vaccine in Taiwan (Fig. 6). The Division transferred this vaccine platform to Reber Genetics Company, invested by HealthBanks Biotech Company in Taiwan, via a contract-out agreement. The Reber Genetics GMP plant of animal vaccine is already approved to perform the field trial test of PRRS vaccine by government in 2010. After completing this process, the PRRS vaccine will be launched on the market in Taiwan and elsewhere. Following the successful development of the PRRS vaccine, several other biological products, including other subunit vaccines, protein adjuvants and protein drugs will be marketed in future.Commercial mycoplasma vaccines were prepared from killed bacteria. However, mass production of mycoplasma vaccines via complicated cultivation is costly and time consuming. ATIT therefore  screened antigens from M. hyopneumoniae and M. hyorhinis by immunoproteomics and used them to develop a new generation vaccine that protects swine against M. hyopneumoniae and M. hyorhinis. Antigen discovery, cloning and expression of genes encoding antigens, and animal experiments have been conducted this year. Animal experiments showed that inclusion of two or more different recombinant antigens in the traditional vaccine improves vaccine efficacy. Additionally, recombinant antigens were expressed in a live attenuated Salmonella Choleraesuis developed by ATIT. Live attenuated S. Choleraesuis vaccine has the advantages over inactivated vaccine in that it can elicit both humoral and cellular immunity and provide better protection. This new and safe live-attenuated Salmonella vaccine is used to protect swine against S. Choleraesuis, M. hyopneumoniae and M. hyorhinis.
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  • Enhancing Meat Hygiene and Safety
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      • Assisting the government in monitoring meat hygiene and safety is essential to protecting public health. The Division has implemented a meat-inspection enhancement project for improving meat safety in Taiwan. This project has implemented eight major tasks this year, as follows:

        (1) Various training courses were attended by 50 meat inspectors and staff. These courses were held to train veterinarians  as well as newly recruited inspectors and meat inspection assistants.

        (2) A survey of microbial contamination on carcass surfaces, focused particularly on viable bacteria, E. coli and coliform bacteria, collected national baseline data. Totals of 2,510 and 2,365 carcass samples were collected from hog and poultry slaughterhouses, respectively.

        (3) A national support system was established for reference laboratories in slaughter hygiene and inspection techniques. A total of 1,017 tissues and 304 lung samples from slaughterhouses were submitted for pathological and/or microbiological examination.

        (4) An evaluation standard for postmortem livestock inspection was applied to 92 slaughtering lines to compare differences in the disposition of postmortem lesions among slaughtering lines (Fig. 7).

        (5) A 21-member committee was established to inspect blueprints and/or conduct onsite audits of applications for new slaughterhouses. Twenty-five blueprints were submitted to the committee for approval and 19 onsite audits were performed to assess slaughterhouse physical layout.

        (6) On-line learning system and editing of meat inspection atlas for livestock and poultry were performed to provide meat inspectors with learning materials.

        (7) Tissue digestion and tissue compression methods were used to directly detect Trichinella larvae in 5029 tissue samples from 20 slaughterhouses.

        (8) Three training courses comprising 20 hours of lectures were held for border meat inspectors, the inspection operation manual was published, and five suspect meat samples were sent to our Institute for examination. Meat hygiene and monitoring are essential to maintaining imported meat quality and ensuring consumer safety (Fig. 8).
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  • Surveillance of Microbiology and Drug Resistance
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      • Taiwan lacks a comprehensive nationwide database for specific microbiology data; therefore, it is necessary to establish scientific methods to collect specific microbiology data in the slaughterhouse inspection in Taiwan.  These data can provide guidance and assistance in improving slaughterhouse hardware and software such as hygiene  procedures, and will be applied as negotiable information in the import and export of international meat market. This program was based on the USDA FSIS materials and methods for collecting specific microbiology baseline data in slaughterhouses from 2007 to 2011 (Fig. 9). The collected data were integrated and sent to the sanitation unit of the Division to provide a reference for building up inspection standards for microorganisms for pathogenic bacteria in slaughterhouses in Taiwan. This year, the Division has monitored salmonella contamination of carcass surfaces in slaughterhouses and helped assisted the pig producer to reduce carcass contamination rates. Additionally, ATIT has collected microorganisms from slaughterhouses in Taiwan. The feces samples were collected by swabs and used to isolate microorganisms such as Salmonella spp., Campylobacter jejuni, Campylobacter coli, Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium and Escherichia coli. The antibiotic resistance of bacterial strains isolated from feces samples was analyzed (Fig. 10). The analytical results revealed no significant change in antimicrobial resistance rate between 2010-2011.
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  • Development of Diagnostic Techniques
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      • This year we have accomplished research projects as follows: first, the Division has identified a sera-recognized epitope of recombinant Pasteurella multocida adhesion via antigenic epitope analysis and immunogenicity evaluation, which canbe considered a subunit vaccine candidate. Second, the Division was responsible for four topics associated with the project for development and evaluation of inspection methods for animal vaccines. The Division has improved serodetection of Avibacterium paragallinarum (Fig. 11), developed challenge infection in chickens with Av. paragallinarum, and determined the correlations of sensitivity for four-breed chickens infected with Av. paragallinarum. After that, the Division has performed immunogenicity and potency analyses for avian Salmonellosis. Third, The Division has evaluated antibiotic residues and determined florfenicol withdrawal time in native chickens in a food production context. Finally  the Division was responsible for two topics of the project of stability testing for influenza vaccines. The Division developed an inspection method for antigen content eluted from influenza virus vaccines, and also determined sera titers following immunization with vaccines in mice.
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  • Swine Serum Epidemiology
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      • The sera were collected for the foot-and-mouth disease surveillance plan based on 95% probabilities and a 10% infection rate selected by stratified random sampling. All sera were examined for PRRS antibody using a commercial ELISA kit. During 2011, 4,064 blood samples were obtained from 271 pig farms. Of the 271 sampled farms, 242 showed positive results, for a herd prevalence of 89%. The vaccination rate of investigated pig farms was just 6%. The results demonstrated that the PRRS virus is generally prevalent in pig farms (Fig.12), and thus is a strong influence on the pig farming industry. Some 3,375 out of 4,064 sera reacted positive for antibody, and thus the serum prevalence was 83%.   Pandemic H1N1 influenza viruses infected Taiwanese swine herds around the end of 2009. Novel viral reassortants carrying diverse recombinations of genes from pandemic H1N1 and endemic swine influenza viruses were found between 2010-2011. Serological investigation of 6,204 pig sera gathered from 408 swine herds during March, 2007-September, 2011 revealed increasing prevalence of pandemic H1N1 influenza virus and its H1 reassortant progeny, with a peak following 2010 (Fig.13). Novel H3 reassortant progeny carrying genes from pandemic H1N1 influenza virus may contribute to higher seropositivity of H3 antibody before 2010.
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  • Safety Study of Pig Models for Medical Research
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      • Safety studies are important during the early stages of preclinical development for new drugs. Human and pig circulatory system and blood vessels are widely known to be generally  similar in structure and function, and consequently pigs are a commonly used large animal model in safety studies for medical research. This study established the novel use of the non-invasive technique for measuring blood pressure in pigs. The proposed technique is also applied for measurement of blood pressure under the administration of multiple drugs in the pig model (Fig.14).~Safety studies are important during the early stages of preclinical development for new drugs. Human and pig circulatory system and blood vessels are widely known to be generally  similar in structure and function, and consequently pigs are a commonly used large animal model in safety studies for medical research. This study established the novel use of the non-invasive technique for measuring blood pressure in pigs. The proposed technique is also applied for measurement of blood pressure under the administration of multiple drugs in the pig model (Fig.14).
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  • Risk Assessment and Amendment of OIE Code
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      • To avoid international trade conflicts, import decisions regarding specific animals and animal products must be based on transparent scientific evidence provided by risk assessment in accordance with the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement promulgated by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the OIE. Twenty-one importation cases were assessed via risk assessment to potentially amend animal quarantine procedures in Taiwan. The project for this year involves inviting experts on foot-and-mouth disease (FMD)、bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)、「use of animals in research, testing or teaching」、「animal welfare issues related to the transport of animals by land」、「control of OIE listed diseases in heat treated, shelf stable pet food」、「monitoring of quantities and usage patterns of antimicrobial agents used in food producing animals」 and 「classic swine fever」to study and analyze the influence of the amendment of the Terrestrial Animal Code of OIE on animal quarantine and international market access for animal products from Taiwan. Forty suggestions on amendments beneficial to Taiwan were made and forwarded to the OIE.

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