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Mushroom Extract Protects Poultry From Parasite Diseases

Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist and her South Korean colleagues have found out that a wide use of mushroom extracts //will protect poultry against a major parasitic disease.

The researchers, led by immunologist Hyun Lillehoj at the ARS (U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency) Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. and her colleagues have developed a technique that controls coccidiosis, which is responsible for the poultry industry billions of dollar losses annually across the globe. The results of the findings were described in a recent issue of the journal Poultry Science.

The scientists injected lectin extracted from Fomitella fraxinea (a wood-rotting mushroom seen mostly on black locust tree stumps) into 18-day-old embryos to activate their innate immune systems and later challenged the newly hatched chicks with coccidiosis-causing parasites. This treatment significantly protected chickens against coccidiosis-associated weight loss and reduced fecal shedding of live parasites.

This particular lectin is usually prepared under less-stringent conditions than are other mushroom compounds that produce a similar effect, making its commercial production more feasible. Currently, this new method is the subject of a patent application.

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