The Infectious Bronchitis Virus, commonly known as IB, is an extremely contagious virus which is transmitted through aerosols, contaminated feed and water and contact with animals or material (Spc, Inc) IB infects chickens through the respiratory tract, kidney, gut and reproductive system (Encyclopedia of Life, 2013). Infectious Bronchitis can only infect chickens and is largely responsible for significant financial loss within the poultry industry (Encyclopedia of Life, 2013). By examining this virus, it will be known that Infectious Bronchitis has a large impact on farms all over the world, including Australia.
IB is caused by a coronavirus called Avian Infectious Bronchitis (Hub, 2013), meaning several viruses that infect the respiratory tract of chickens (Works, 2013). It varies genetically and phenotypically, and was recently reclassified to Gamma coronavirus, with a non-segmented, positive-sense single-stranded RNA genome. In other words, the genome is one piece of RNA or DNA (Shmoop, 2013), and can immediately be translated by the host cell and directly cause infection, though it may be less infectious than the whole virus particle (Wikipedia, 2013).
Within 24 hours post-infection, symptoms of this respiratory disease may begin to arise, such as coughing, sneezing and rales. In flocks of birds over the age of 6 weeks, these symptoms may only be noticeable at night when the birds are generally quiet (Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine). Young birds that are infected with IB tend to show signs such as depression and ruffled feathers. Other symptoms include conjunctivitis, nasal discharge and a fluid build-up in the abdomen. A vast drop in egg production may also be noticeable within 1 week of becoming infected. Although not all birds will display these symptoms, the chance that they are already infected is extremely high, due to exposure of aerosolized virus particles in the air. (Theodore, 2010).
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