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Inclusion Body Hepatitis

Inclusion body hepatitis (IBH) is an acute liver disease caused by fowl aviadenovirus (FAdV). The disease can infect domestic chickens, pigeons, quail, and Northern Bobwhite. It is more of a problem for broilers and broiler breeder flocks, where it is one of the most prevalent infections affecting birds. 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 in the first place. IBH was first described in the United States in 1963.

Inclusion Body Hepatitis Symptoms

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%).

Inclusion Body Hepatitis Transmission

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.

Inclusion body hepatitis Diagnosis

Virus isolation and identification accompanied by molecular techniques including PCR and sequencing are the current gold standards for diagnosis. Typical viral particles can be detected from feces, liver, spleen, kidney, or other affected tissues.

Clinical Signs

Ruffled feathers
Weight loss
Watery droppings


  • 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.



Biosecurity protection measures

Scientific References

Age Range

Most often occurs in meat-type chickens between 3-7 weeks of age.

Risk Factors

  • Rescued broilers or broiler breeders.