Infectious laryngotracheitis (ILTV) in the Australian Poultry Industry

The Australian chicken meat industry is committed to enhancing chicken biosecurity, health and welfare as outlined in the AgriFutures Chicken Meat Program RD&E Plan 2022-2027. One way this is being achieved is through the monitoring of Infectious laryngotracheitis (ILTV) and the development of best practices to manage the impact of the virus. ILTV is an infectious viral disease that affects the larynx (voice box) and trachea (airway leading from the mouth to the lungs) of the chicken. It causes significant financial and flock losses in the Australian meat chicken industry as it can lead to death. A chicken may be infected with the virus if it has breathing difficulties, redness and swelling of the eyelids and tissue surrounding the eyes, is huddled up or unresponsive.

There are vaccinations available for ILTV, which are supplied to meat chickens during an outbreak. This is mainly done by adding weakened viruses into drinking water and relies on the vaccine being splashed into the nose of the chicken and entering the airway.

AgriFutures has supported research to safeguard the meat chicken industry from significant ILTV losses by developing better testing and prevention methods, which use shed dust to identify the virus instead of invasive swabs. Although tracheal swabs of chickens can still be used on farms to identify whether vaccination programs are effective.

Best practice for reducing the spread of ILTV include thoroughly removing shed litter, and if litter is being reused, it must be rested, composted and should not be used for new chickens until at least 48 hours between batches. For more information, see the following research funded by the AgriFutures Australia Chicken Meat Program:

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