Inclusion Body Hepatitis (IBH) is a disease most known to affect young broiler chickens. It is caused by fowl adenoviruses and was first described in 1963 in the USA. It affects chickens globally, and has also been identified in turkeys and pheasants.
The infection can last about five days and infected birds can remain carriers for several weeks. It has a morbidity rate of 1-10%, which is the condition of suffering from a disease or medical condition, and a sudden mortality rate of between 2-40%. It only affects young chickens, usually under seven weeks of age.
Inclusion Body Hepatitis is caused by fowl adenoviruses. It can affect very young chickens and causes acute mortality. In the worst case scenarios, it can also be accompanied by other diseases like infectious bursal disease.
Vertical transmission from hen to egg is the main way the disease is spread, but it can also be transmitted horizontally from bird to bird through droppings.
Clinical signs are difficult to observe and are nonspecific as the disease is often characterised by sudden mortality. However, birds with Inclusion Body Hepatitis may appear listless with severe anaemia and yellow mucoid droppings. Mature birds do not show clinical signs and develop antibodies in their blood.
An initial diagnosis can be made by seeing a sudden, dramatic increase in mortality in young broilers. A swollen, mottled liver with pinpoint lesions, pale bone marrow and pale kidneys are also indicative of the disease. The diagnosis can be confirmed by histopathology or a PCR test.
Treatment and control
There is no treatment for Inclusion Body Hepatitis. Preventing secondary infections with antibiotics is the best way to control the disease. The use of inactivated vaccines is the preferred, preventive method of control in breeding flocks, ensuring immunity is transferred to their chicks.
In addition to other methods, robust biosecurity measures are the most effective way to prevent the introduction and spread of disease. Applying preventative measures and regular cleaning of a premises can help stop any secondary infections entering a farm.
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