‘Potentially serious’ viral disease ILT discovered in poultry flocks in NI

A potentially serious viral infection, ILT, has started to spread through Northern Ireland (NI) poultry flocks, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has warned poultry keepers.

ILT (or infectious laryngotracheitis) is a respiratory disease that can have a significant impact on production levels and cause increased deaths in flocks. The herpesvirus infection can affect chickens, pheasants, peafowl and turkeys.

Advising flock-keepers on prevention, a DAERA spokesperson said: “The best way to protect your flock is to ensure the use of effective biosecurity measures as outlined in the advice given on avian flu prevention.

“Litter can be involved in infection spread, so please keep litter trailers covered and store litter for as long as practically possible before spreading it.”

ILT (infectious laryngotracheitis)

ILT is a notifiable disease. However, there are no human health or food safety implications associated with the disease.

The pathogenicity of the disease can vary, with between half and all the birds infected showing symptoms. ILT usually leads to mortality rates of 10-20% but rates can sometimes be as high as 70%.

Transmission between farms can occur through airborne particles or via objects such as clothing, footwear or vehicles.

The virus is highly resistant outside the host but is susceptible to disinfectants. Movement and mixing of stock and reaching point of lay are predisposing factors.

Farmers are asked to contact their private veterinary practitioner if they suspect that their flock has been infected.