Various diagnostics techniques were compared for their ability to detect infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) during an outbreak in chickens aged between 4 and 21 wk. Gross lesions ranged from excess mucus to accumulation of fibrinonecrotic exudate in the larynx and trachea. Syncytial cells with intranuclear inclusion bodies were found in sinus, conjunctiva, larynx, trachea, lung, and air sac. Virus isolation in chicken embryos was attempted in every case. Negative-stain electron microscopy detected herpesvirus in only 6% of the cases. Yet, isolation of ILT virus in the chorioallantoic membrane was presumed by histology in >20% of the samples and confirmed by fluorescent antibody (FA) in 35% of the embryos inoculated with conjunctivas or tracheas from affected birds. Overall, results from histology and FA tests were highly correlated. FA test has the advantage over histology of being diagnostically specific for ILT virus. Polymerase chain reaction was the most sensitive test and detected the viral DNA even in cases where histology and FA were negative. ILT virus DNA was quantified by real-time polymerase chain reaction (Re-Ti ILTV). Histologic and FA results from larynx and trachea were negative if the concentration of the viral DNA was ≤4 of log10. A viral DNA concentration higher than log10 4, as determined by Re-Ti ILTV, was required for clinical ILT to be manifested.
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Vol. 51 • No. 4