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Remembering Dr. Mahesh Chandra Kumar

  • Mahesh Chandra Kumar

    Remembering Dr. Mahesh Chandra Kumar

    Kumar celebrated for work in poultry medicine and disease research

    Dr. Mahesh Chandra Kumar

College of Veterinary Medicine alumnus Dr. Mahesh Chandra Kumar passed away on Nov. 23, 2022, at the age of 87 in Sartell, Minn. He was a man of few words but was quick with his wit and ready with a kind word.

He is survived by his wife Shashi; children, Ashwini, Salil, Sanjai, and Sheen; their spouses, Erika, Monika, Debi, and Sean; and his grandchildren, Aeshna, Aneesh, Haley, and Shriya.

Kumar was born in 1935 in Montgomery, India, prior to the 1947 partition of India. His family received word of the pending partition and was able to escape before widespread violence broke out on the subcontinent. They settled in the state of Bihar where he attended university majoring in veterinary science and animal husbandry.  

Kumar ventured from Patna, Bihar, to St. Paul, Minn. in 1962, to study for a PhD at the University of Minnesota. Decades before the internet made it easy to plan an international move, he arrived at JFK airport with a little money and a large suitcase and landed at the MSP airport the day before Christmas. 

Kumar spent several years at the University of Minnesota as a PhD student and a postdoc,
working with Dr. Ben Pomeroy where he focused on the epidemiology, pathogenesis, control
and prevention of salmonella and mycoplasma infections in turkeys. He observed the central
role of vertical transmission in both diseases, developed a prevention method utilizing egg
dipping in an antibiotic solution, and developed a science-based surveillance strategy for detection of salmonella infection on turkey breeders.

After leaving the University of Minnesota, he began a career as a poultry veterinarian in the
turkey industry where his astute observation skills and hard work fostered relationships with
academic veterinarians. Examples of some outcomes and publications of this teamwork are:

  • Finding turkeys may harbor an upper respiratory infection with Mycoplasma synoviae while remaining serologically negative.
  • Finding avian influenza virus H3N2 in gulls and surface water and recognizing the probable association with gulls.
  • Observing that poults hatched from avian metapneumovirus-infected breeders were themselves infected within a few days of hatching. This was the first observation of the probable egg transmission of the virus, which was later confirmed.
  • Observing that turkey flocks could be infected with the avian influenza virus but remain serologically negative.

Kumar was a highly respected and nationally known turkey veterinarian and was recognized
for his mentoring and guidance of colleagues. His national reputation was recognized by the
American Association of Avian Pathologists with the Lifetime Membership Award. Governor
Ventura appointed him to the Minnesota State Board of Animal Health. The World Health
Organizations and the U.S. Department of State sought out his expertise during avian disease
outbreaks and he remained connected with the veterinary community well after retirement.

He also observed the costly impact of Mycoplasma meleagridis infection on poults following
venereal transmission from turkey toms to hens.

Kumar will be remembered as a loving family man, caring friend, and tireless colleague. The
family will have a celebration of life in Spring 2023. 

Donations in honor of Kumar may be made to any animal shelter or the American
Association of Avian Pathologists Foundation

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