Avian infectious laryngotracheitis (ILT) herpesvirus continues to cause sporadic cases of respiratory disease in chickens world-wide. Sources of transmission of ILT infection are three-fold, namely: chickens with acute upper respiratory tract disease, latently infected 'carrier' fowls which excrete infectious laryngotracheitis virus (ILTV) when stressed, and all fomites (inanimate articles as well as the personnel in contact with infected chickens). Infectious laryngotracheitis virus infectivity can persist for weeks to months in tracheal mucus or carcasses. Rigorous site biosecurity is therefore critical in ILT disease control. Furthermore, while current (modified live) ILT vaccines can offer good protection, the strains of ILTV used in vaccines can also produce latent infections, as well as ILT disease following bird-to-bird spread. The regional nature of reservoirs of ILTV-infected flocks will tend to interact unfavourably with widely varying ILT control practices in the poultry industry, so as to periodically result in sporadic and unexpected outbreaks of ILT in intensive poultry industry populations. Precautions for trade-related movements of chickens of all ages must therefore include an accurate knowledge of the ILT infection status, both of the donor and recipient flocks.
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