When an avian influenza or virulent Newcastle disease outbreak occurs within commercial poultry, key steps involved in managing a fast-moving poultry disease can include: education; biosecurity; diagnostics and surveillance; quarantine; elimination of infected poultry through depopulation or culling, disposal, and disinfection; and decreasing host susceptibility. Available mass emergency depopulation procedures include whole-house gassing, partial-house gassing, containerized gassing, and water-based foam. To evaluate potential depopulation methods, it is often necessary to determine the time to the loss of consciousness (LOC) in poultry. Many current approaches to evaluating LOC are qualitative and require visual observation of the birds. This study outlines an electroencephalogram (EEG) frequency domain–based approach for determining the point at which a bird loses consciousness. In this study, commercial broilers were used to develop the methodology, and the methodology was validated with layer hens. In total, 42 data sets from 13 broilers aged 5–10 wk and 12 data sets from four spent hens (age greater than 1 yr) were collected and analyzed. A wireless EEG transmitter was surgically implanted, and each bird was monitored during individual treatment with isoflurane anesthesia. EEG data were evaluated using a frequency-based approach. The alpha /delta (A/D, alpha: 8–12 Hz, delta: 0.5–4 Hz) ratio and loss of posture (LOP) were used to determine the point at which the birds became unconscious. Unconsciousness, regardless of the method of induction, causes suppression in alpha and a rise in the delta frequency component, and this change is used to determine unconsciousness. There was no statistically significant difference between time to unconsciousness as measured by A/D ratio or LOP, and the A/D values were correlated at the times of unconsciousness. The correlation between LOP and A/D ratio indicates that the methodology is appropriate for determining unconsciousness. The A/D ratio approach is suitable for monitoring during anesthesia, during depopulation, and in situations where birds cannot be readily viewed.
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Vol. 56 • No. 4s1