Journal of Applied Microbiology. 2013;115:1278-1286.

Modulation by essential oil of vaccine response and production improvement in chicken challenged with velogenic Newcastle disease virus.

Barbour EK1,2, Shaib H1, Azhar E3, Kumosani T4, Iyer A4, Harakeh A3, G. Damanhouri5, A. Chaudary5 and R.R. Bragg6


1 Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, American University of Beirut (AUB), Beirut, Lebanon
2 Adjunct to Biochemistry Department, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
3 Special Infectious Agents Unit – Biosafety Level 3, King Fahad Medical Research Center, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
4 Biochemistry Department, Faculty of Science and Experimental Biochemistry Unit, King Fahd Medical Research Center, King Abdulaziz

University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
5 King Fahad Medical Research Center, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
6 Department of Microbial, Biochemical and Food Biotechnology, University of The Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa



The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of Eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils on immune modulation and production of broiler chicken challenged with a molecularly characterized velogenic NewCastle disease virus (vNDV). The experimental design included five treatments with three replicate pens/treatment comprised of 12-day-old broilers chicks/replicate. The five treatments included a positive challenge control (non-NDV vaccinated/nonessential oil treated/challenged) (NNEOC), a negative challenge control (NDV vaccinated/essential oil treated/unchallenged) (VEOU), a non-NDV vaccinated/essential oil treated/challenged (NEOC), a NDV vaccinated/nonessential oil treated/challenged (VNEOC) and a NDV vaccinated/essential oil treated/challenged (VEOC). The lowest mean survival rate (0.0%) and lowest production performance were obtained by the positive challenge control, while the best mean survival (93.3%) and average body weight (2649 g) were obtained by the negative challenge controls (P < 0.05). Among the three others challenged treatments, the best mean survival (79.2%), highest mean body weight at 42 days of age (2445 g), the lowest feed conversion ratio (1:60) and the highest serum conversion immunopotentiation at 35 days of age determined by ELISA and hemagglutination titers were obtained by the VEOC birds compared with respective means obtained by birds of the NEOC and VNEOC treatments (P < 0.05). The results supported the possibility of using the essential oils of Eucalyptus and Peppermint in broilers to immunopotentiate the response to vaccination against velogenic NDV, helping in significant improvement of survival and production.

PMID: 24033981



The velogenic NewCastle Disease (ND) is included within the ‘List A’ ailment by the World Animal Health Organization, due to its significant economic impact on the poultry industry. The expected percent mortality in broilers exposed naturally to the different strains of velogenic NDV ranges between 30 and 90. Most of the developing countries, and due to the absence of governmental compensation, are still experimenting on interceptions against velogenic NDV by different vaccines, including classical vaccines (killed and live) and recently commercialized vectored DNA vaccines. Unfortunately, neither the classical nor the vectored DNA vaccines are inducing an acceptable ≥80% protection against this disease. This situation in the developing countries suffering from velogenic NDV requires an intensive search for immunomodulators that could result in an acceptable protection against this ailment by the present vaccines. No work has explored the impact of a blend of essential oils of eucalyptus and peppermint on production and immunity to velogenic NDV (1, 2). The percentages of the major constituents of the blend were as follows: Cineol (42.2%), limonene (3.5%), L-menthol (48.7%), phellandrene (0.5%), α-pinene (1.0%), β-pinene (0.3%), and terpineol (0.3%).

We then asked the question… in the present failure to control the velogenic NDV by available vaccines, why not trying to include this essential oil blend in drinking water as an immuno-potentiator hoping to protect the birds against high mortality.

We knew from folklore human medicine that severe cold in the past was treated by putting a mixture of Eucalyptus and peppermint in hot boiling water, in which the patient inhaled the generated vapor, resulting in rapid recovery from this condition. Accordingly, we included some treatments in which the challenged birds were sprayed also with this blend. The challenging virus has a fusion gene expressing the following amino acid sequence positioned at 33-116, showing the cleavage site at the end (GRRQKR) (Fig. 1).

Figure 1Figure 1. Amino acid sequence of the fusion gene of velogenic NDV used in challenge.

The experimental design included different days of treatment with the essential oil blend, which resulted in one successful treatment having survivors of challenged birds equivalent to around 80% and showing normal production performance.

The importance of the study. This study provides information about the potential use of essential oils of eucalyptus and peppermint that can be exploited as immunopotentiators for the NDV-vaccinated broiler chickens against economic velogenic NDV.



  1. Barbour EK, Yaghi RH, Jaber LS, Shaib HA, Harakeh S 2010 Safety and antiviral activity of essential oil against Avian Influenza and NewCastle Disease viruses. International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine 8:60-64.
  2. Barbour EK, Saadé MF, Abdel Nour AM, Kayali G, Kidess S, Bou Ghannam R, Harakeh S, Shaib H 2011 Evaluation of essential oils in treatment of broilers co-infected with multiple respiratory etiologic agents. International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine 9(4):317-323. 


Acknowledgments: This study was supported by EWABO Company (EWABO Chemikalien GmbH & Co, Germany).


Contact:Author picture

Elie K. Barbour, PhD


Department of Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Chairman of the Research Committee at

Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences

American University of Beirut

PO Box 11-0236,

Riad El-Solh 1107-2020 Beirut, Lebanon


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