Between May 2007 and October 2008, 34 outbreaks of mild to moderate forms of infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) occurred in commercial broiler flocks in Italy. Affected birds showed watery eyes, conjunctivitis, nasal discharge, reduction of feed and water consumption, and gasping with expectoration of blood-stained mucus. The mortality rate was <10%. Gross lesions consisted of conjunctivitis, excess of mucus, blood, or presence of diphtheritic membranes in trachea. A real-time PCR assay was performed to confirm the presence of ILT virus (ILTV) DNA in tracheal tissue homogenates. Twenty-three ILTV isolates were propagated on the chorion-allantoic membrane of embryonated chicken eggs showing typical plaques. PCR combined with restriction fragment length polymorphism and gene sequencing of isolates showed a high genetic correlation between field strains and chicken embryo origin vaccines.
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Vol. 54 • No. 4