Inclusion body hepatitis associated with an outbreak of fowl adenovirus type 2 and type 8b in broiler flocks in South Africa


  • Louis H Maartens Deltamune (Pty) Ltd
  • Hilda W Joubert Deltamune (Pty) Ltd
  • Henry Aitchison Avimune (Pty) Ltd
  • Estelle H Venter University of Pretoria


Inclusion body hepatitis is an acute disease of chickens ascribed to viruses of the genus Aviadenovirus and referred to as fowl adenovirus (FAdV). There are 12 FAdV types (FAdV1 to FAdV8a and FAdV8b to FAdV11), classified into five species based on their genotype (designated FAdVA to FAdVE). A total of 218 000 chickens, 2–29 days of age, were affected over a 1-year period, all testing positive by microscopy, virus isolation and confirmation with polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Affected birds were depressed, lost body weight, were weak and had watery droppings. Pathological changes observed during necropsy indicated consistent changes in the liver, characterised by hepatomegaly, cholestasis and hepatitis. Lesions were also discernible in the spleen, kidney and gizzard wall and were characterised by splenomegaly, pinpoint haemorrhages, nephritis with haemorrhage,
visceral gout and serosal ecchymosis of the gizzard wall. Histopathological lesions were most consistently observed in the liver but could also be seen in renal and splenic tissue. Virus isolation was achieved in embryonated eggs and most embryos revealed multifocal to diffuse hepatic necrosis, with a mixed cellular infiltrate of macrophages and heterophils (necro-granulomas), even in the absence of macroscopic pathology. Virus isolation results were verified by histopathology and PCR on embryonic material and further characterised by nucleotide sequence analysis. Two infectious bursal disease virus isolates were also made from the Klerksdorp flock. Nucleotide sequence analysis of the L1 hexon loop of all the FAdV isolates indicated homology (99%) with prototype strains P7-A for FAdV-2, as well as for FAdV-8b.

Author Biographies

  • Louis H Maartens, Deltamune (Pty) Ltd

    Department of Research and Development, Deltamune (Pty) Ltd, South Africa

  • Hilda W Joubert, Deltamune (Pty) Ltd

    Department of Research and Development, Deltamune (Pty) Ltd, South Africa

  • Henry Aitchison, Avimune (Pty) Ltd

    Avimune (Pty) Ltd, Lyttelton, South Africa

  • Estelle H Venter, University of Pretoria

    Department of Veterinary Tropical Diseases, University of Pretoria, South Africa






Original Research