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Inclusion Body Hepatitis

Other Names: Adenoviral Hepatitis

Inclusion body hepatitis (IBH) is an acute liver disease caused by fowl adenovirus (FAdV). It affects chickens of all age groups worldwide. IBH is a frequent problem for the commercial poultry industry, specifically seen in broilers and broiler breeder flocks. Affected flocks are often co-infected with other immunosuppressive viruses such as infectious bursal disease virus or chicken infectious anemia virus which predispose birds to developing IBH.

What are Signs of Inclusion Body Hepatitis in Chickens?

IBH is characterized by a rapid disease course (1 to 3 weeks), diarrhea, lethargy, and decreased appetite. It is associated with low to moderate mortality rates (less than 10 to 30%).

How do Chickens get Inclusion Body Hepatitis?

The virus can be transmitted to chickens both vertically and horizontally, however vertical transmission is of most importance as it is associated with infected breeder chickens passing the virus down to their offspring after hatching. Infections can often be latent, and reactivated with stress.

How can Inclusion Body Hepatitis be Diagnosed?

  • Serology, virus isolation.
  • IHC against FAV.
  • PCR - detection of FAdV from the liver.

Clinical Signs

Ruffled feathers
Weight loss
Watery droppings
Pale skin


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Virus isolation
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • Gross lesions


Supportive care: Isolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own chicken "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.




Scientific References

Risk Factors

  • Rescued broilers or broiler breeders.