Avian infectious laryngotracheitis

Avian infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) is a respiratory disease caused by gallid alphaherpesvirus 1. It is principally a disease of chickens, although it can also affect pheasants, partridges and peafowl. Clinically, the disease may appear in three forms, namely peracute, subacute, and chronic or mild. In the peracute form, onset of disease is sudden with a rapid spread. The morbidity is high and mortality may exceed 50%. Some birds may die in good body condition before the appearance of signs, which are characteristic and comprise difficulty in breathing with extension of the neck and gasping in an attempt to inhale. There is also gurgling, rattling and coughing when birds try to expel obstructions in the trachea. Conjunctivitis may also be observed. Clots of blood may be coughed up and can be found on the floor and walls of the house. In the subacute form, the onset of illness is slower and respiratory signs may extend over some days before deaths are seen. The morbidity is high but the mortality is lower than in the peracute form, between 10% and 30%. Chronic or mild ILT may be seen among survivors of either of the above forms of the disease, although some outbreaks themselves may be entirely mild. Incidence of chronic ILT within a flock may be only 1–2%. Signs include coughing, nasal, ocular and oral discharge, and reduced egg production. Vaccines against ILT are usually prepared from attenuated live virus. Those available at present afford some degree of protection, but are not ideal. There is no known risk of human infection with ILTV.