Infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) has been identified in most countries around the world and remains a threat to the intensive poultry industry. Outbreaks of mild to moderate forms of ILT are common in commercial layer flocks, while sporadic outbreaks of ILT in broiler flocks have also been recognized as an emerging problem in several countries. Examination of viral isolates using restriction fragment length polymorphism of polymerase chain reaction (PCR-RFLP) from individual ILTV genes has suggested that some of these outbreaks were caused by vaccine strains.
In this study, PCR-RFLP of a number of ILTV genes/genomic regions including gE, gG, TK, ICP4, ICP18.5, and open reading frame (ORF) B-TK was used to examine a number of historical and contemporary Australian ILTV isolates and vaccine strains. PCR-RFLP of gE using restriction endonuclease EaeI failed to distinguish between any of the isolates including the vaccine strains. PCR-RFLP of gG, TK, and ORFB-TK using restriction endonucleases MspI and FokI, respectively, divided all the isolates into two groups. PCR-RFLP of ICP18.5 and ICP4 using restriction endonuclease HaeIII separated the isolates into three different groups with some field isolates only able to be distinguished from vaccine strains by PCR-RFLP of ICP18.5. A combination of groupings including gG, TK, ICP4, ICP18.5, and ORFB-TK PCR-RFLP classified the ILTV isolates under investigation into five different groups with most isolates distinguishable from vaccine strains. Results from this study reveal that to achieve reliable identification of strains of ILTV, the examination of multiple gene regions will be required, and that most of the recent ILT outbreaks in Australia are not being caused by vaccine strains.