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• A hydropericardium syndrome first appeared in the commercial broiler chickens in Pakistan during late 1987, causing high mortality (Anonymous, 1988). Later the syndrome has also affected medium weight laying strains and broiler breeder strains of the chicken (Anjum, 1988). The disease primarily affects liver, heart, kidneys and lungs.
• It is still inflicting heavy losses. Based on basophilic intra-nuclear inclusion bodies in the hepatocytes (Anjum et al, 1989), and hexagonal adeno-like virus particles in liver homogenates (Cheema et al., 1989), a viral aetiology was suggested.
• It was first reported at Angara Goth, an exclusively broiler growing area in Karachi (Jaffery, 1988). • Initially, it was believed that HPS was a nutritional disorder (Qureshi, 1989).
• Litchi Heart disease, primarily of broiler chickens, was first reported in Angara Goth near Karachi, Pakistan, during 1987 (Khawaja et al., 1988; Gowda and Satyanarayana, 1994), and it has been reported to be particularly important in some countries in Asia and America (Jaffery, 1988; Shane, 1996; Abe et al., 1998).
• The syndrome is characterized by an accumulation of clear, straw-coloured fluid in the pericardial sac, discoloured liver and enlarged kidneys (ANJUM et al., 1989; CHEEMA et al., 1989).
• The sudden onest of the disease and a mortality rate as higher as 75% affecting the 3 to 6 week old age group and causing a sever hazard to poultry producers, particularly in the broiler industry in India and Pakistan (Gowda and Satyanarayana, 1994)
• An adenovirus was isolated from lyophilised homogenates of livers taken from affected birds by the Central Veterinary Laboratory, Weybridge, UK and later confirmed as a new isolate of adenovirus designated as K31/89 by a laboratory in Germany (Voss, 1989). Preventive measures and treatment for the disease are not yet available.
• Inclusion body hepatitis (IBH) was first described in the U.S. in 1963 and since then has been reported in many countries around the world. Subsequently, it was determined to be associated with avian adenovirus (AAV) infection. • The first AAV associated with clinical disease was isolated from an outbreak of respiratory disease in quail in 1950 . Since that time, AAVs have been found to be ubiquitous in all types and breeds of chickens (normal flora).
• They have been isolated from numerous species of birds, including both healthy and sick poultry. In addition to IBH, AAV has been associated withhydropericardium syndrome (HP), egg production drops, reduced growth rate and feed conversion, tenosynovitis, proventriculitis,gizzard erosions and respiratory disease.
• Initially, it was thought that IBH could only be caused by adenovirus if the bird’s immune system was first weakened by exposure to immunosuppressive agents such as infectious bursal disease (IBD) and chicken anemia virus (CAV). Recent work, however, has demonstrated that virulent strains alone can produce the disease
Clinical Signs and Lesions
• IBH typically occurs in meat-type chickens under six weeks of age but can occur as early as six days and as late as 20 weeks. In outbreaks, there is a sudden onset of mortality that usually ranges from 2 to 10 percent but in some cases may be over 40 percent.
• The syndrome is typically seen in 3-5 weeks old growing broilers with a mortality of 30-60%. • Disease is characterized by the accumulation of a clear straw-colored fluid in the pericardium, swollen, discolored and friable liver, pale and enlarged kidneys (Anonymous, 1988; Anjum et al., 1989; Cheema et al., 1989).
• Mortality will vary depending on the pathogenicity of the virus, susceptibility of the chicks (level of maternal immunity) and secondary infections with other infectious agents.
• Mortality generally peaks within three to four days and ceases within one week, although in some cases it may linger for several weeks.
• Morbidity is low and sick birds that do not die will recover. Affected birds appear depressed with ruffled feathers.
• The primary lesion is an enlarged, pale and friable liver . • Small hemorrhages may be present in the liver and muscle and, in some cases, a straw-colored fluid is present in the sac surrounding the heart.
• With HP, the lesions are similar except the incidence of fluid in the heart sac is greater, mortality is higher (Figure 2) and the age of onset tends to be later (three to five weeks).
• Both vertical and horizontal transmission plays a role in the spread of IBH. Most outbreaks are initiated by transmission of the virus through the embryonated egg and hens exposed during production will typically shed virus to their progeny for three to six weeks until development of immunity occurs.
• Horizontal spread occurs primarily from contact with infected feces. This seems to occur quite frequently and most cases are not diagnosed because they do not become a clinical problem.
• Commercial hatching eggs may be a mechanism of spread of endemic AAV from one area to another. There is evidence that adenovirus infections can become latent and that periods of stress, such as the onset of egg production, will reactivate viral shedding.
• The diagnosis is made by submitting liver samples from affected birds for histopathological examination (formalinfixed) and virus isolation (frozen). • Positive samples will have large blue inclusion bodies located within the nucleus of the liver cells
• It is critical to isolate the virus from IBH positive samples so that serotyping and/or molecular analysis can be performed. • The most common serologic test is the immunodiffusion test that detects the Group I antigen. This test is not sensitive so it is possible to miss positive birds, and does not differentiate by serotype.
• Group I enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is more sensitive but also will not differentiate by serotype. ELISA can be developed for individual serotypes but will not detect the presence of immunity to other serotypes. The serum neutralization test has been used to detect serotype-specific antibody but is labor intensive and expensive because 12 serotypes must be included.
• Diagnosis of the Hydropericardium Syndrome infection has been carried out on the basis of gross lesions, histopathological lesions (Gowda and Satyanarayana, 1994; Kumar et al., 1997).
• In addition to the characteristic Hydropericardium Syndrome Nakamura et al. (2002) observed pinpoint white foci in the pancreas and ventricular erosins in broilers. • The mortality and severity of the lesions may be greater in immuonosupressed birds.
• The epidemiological factors associated with the development of spread of Hydropericardium Syndrome are unclear (Akhtar et al., 1992). • Proper disinfections of premises and equipment, restricted entry of visitors and vaccination crews and ventilation and proper lightening in the poultry house play a significant role in prevention of the disease (Abdul Aziz and Hasan, 1996.)
• IBH is a sporadic and infrequent disease caused by avian adenovirus. • IBH typically occurs in breeder and broiler flocks less than six weeks of age. All breeds are affected. • Mortality averages 2 percent to 10 percentand generally persists for one to two weeks.
• Sick birds that do not die will recover. Affected flocks will perform normally after cessation of mortality. • The primary lesion is a pale, enlarged liver with hemorrhages. • For diagnosis, both formalin-fixed and frozen liver samples must be submitted for histopathological examination and virus isolation.
• Many different serotypes of AAV may cause IBH but do not provide crossprotection. It is important to identify the specific serotype involved in an outbreak.
• Most IBH is caused by vertical transmission and can be prevented by ensuring that breeder flocks are seroconverted prior to the onset of lay. • Endemic AAV can be spread from one area to another by the use of commercial hatching eggs from multiple sources.
• In commercial settings, most breeder flocks seroconvert by natural exposure. In rare instances, seroconversion by vaccination or exposure to contaminated bedding material may be required.
• Limiting the number of breeding stock suppliers and not mixing stock from different suppliers will help prevent outbreaks of IBH.
• IBH is more severe in birds with compromised immune systems; therefore, it is important to effectively control IBD, CAV, nutritional problems and management factors that cause stress.
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