Passive immunization with pathogen-specific egg yolk antibodies (IgY) is emerging as a potential alternative to antibiotics for the treatment and prevention of various human and animal diseases. Laying hens are an excellent source of high-quality polyclonal antibodies, which can be collected noninvasively from egg yolks. The use of IgY offers several advantages in that it is environmentally friendly, nontoxic, and reduces the numbers of animals required for antibody production. This paper reviews the use of IgY antibodies in the treatment and prevention of enteric pathogen infections in poultry. Brief descriptions of the production, structure, and properties of IgY are also presented. Some limitations of the technology and future perspectives are discussed.
Keywords: egg yolk antibodies; enteric infections; hyperimmune IgY; poultry.