Raleigh company develops method to vaccinate chicks more efficiently

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – When it comes time to feed your family – keeping our food safe is a priority for everyone.  

But, keeping poultry healthy enough for us to eat before it ends up in the store can be difficult.

By now you’ve likely heard that our consumption of chicken and other animals that have been treated with antibiotics is making it harder for us to fight off our own infections.

“We consume about 73 billion chickens a year around the globe, over 11 billion in the United States. It’s almost impossible to get every chick and vaccinate them,” said Ramin Karimpour with Applied Life Sciences and Systems.

One method used currently to vaccinate chicks is to coral them up and spray them.  

With an idea that started in his basement, Karimpour figured out how to make that process easier.

He says at least 95-percent effective compared to a 20 to 55 percent the current way.

It’s one of those ideas that may have you say, “Why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?”

But, it’s incredibly scientific combining a lot of brainpower and artificial intelligence.

Karimpour and his team have devised a conveyor belt system that sprays the vaccine on the chicks at a rate of 100,000-per-hour before heading to the grower.

“This definitely helps greatly to reduce significantly the amount of antibiotics used in the industry for growing chickens and for sure other chemicals and drugs and that is actually a move toward organic production,” said Kaimpour.

It ideally keeps the bird healthy enough to not need antibiotics during its lifetime.

It’s a solution the poultry industry wants – with backers like Tyson, Perdue and funding by Merck Animal Health.  

The industry is losing some $9 billion a year to certain diseases.

That loss Karimpour says would be reversed as it also revolutionizes what is one of North Carolina’s largest agricultural products.

“It’s good to leave behind something that has actually done something good for the rest of mankind,” said Karimpour.

ALS-S has moved from facilities at the incubator First Flight in Research Triangle Park to its current location in Raleigh.

There are plans to move again to a much larger building that will eventually employ around 400 people.

If all goes to plan rollout on a large scale will begin in 2021.  

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