Inflammatory responses in birds are because of an immune response. These immune responses can be non-specific (innate) immunity and specific (adaptive) immunity. Thus, the inflammatory responses can be cell specific as in case of cell mediated immune responses which include T or B lymphocyte responses. These are localised or site specific whereas non-specific responses are more generalized involving phagocytic cells and innate antibody. A generalised mass inflammatory response has an overwhelming effect on today’s commercial poultry. The chain reaction of events caused by an antigen always involves the innate immunity reaction prior to the involvement of cell mediated immunity. As we learnt in in vaccination basics, vaccines improve specific antibody titers to prevent infection of target microbes. But does this stop inflammatory responses arising from the innate side of the bird? Do these inflammatory responses affect poultry?
Immunity in its most non-specific forms has more demerits than otherwise. The preventive blanket of mucin and ciliary responses as in case of respiratory and gut associated infections is affected the most in the generalised inflammatory tidal wave. Many researchers have associated tethered mucin thinning and reduced ciliary activity as a primary reason for an active infection in birds. Once opportunistic commensals evade, they spread fast. Most cell mediated responses which may are associated with these commensals would respond very late to such an onslaught. The most pronounced effects of these infections would be in high stress conditions especially in heat stress.Heat stress and high ammonia concentrations or similar stresses would require rapid panting behaviour which would mimic generalised inflammatory responses.
Immunisation reactions are common in poultry where the generalised immunity might be one of the reasons for morbidity. The birds are at this stage in their young but antibody deficient forms. As it is, Vaccination is a boon in the poultry industry but frequent respiratory outbreaks could point a direction towards controlling the span of their inflammatory reign. We have seen protection from certain diseases provided by warmth generated from poultry body, and have seen several mortalities from heat stress, similarly balancing this double edged sword should be left to nature. It is most reassuring to see the improving specifics in immunisation but at the same time it is scary to see the broadening antigen carrying potential of the microbes. All considered, surely inflammation would play a vital part in the future of poultry rearing.