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Inclusion Body Hepatitis

Other Names: Adenoviral Hepatitis

Inclusion body hepatitis (IBH) is an acute liver disease of young broiler chickens caused by the fowl adenovirus (FAdV). The disease was first described in domestic chickens in 1963, and is characterized by sudden onset, increased mortality and hepatitis accompanied with intranuclear inclusion bodies.

IBH is mainly seen in commercial broiler chickens, however it has also been described in pigeons, American kestrels, geese, parrots, and merlin. IBH occurs in several geographical regions in Southeast Asia, Europe, Middle East, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, North America, Mexico, Central and South America.

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.

Clinical Signs

IBH is characterized by a sudden onset of increased mortality of 1-10%, with a short clinical course of 4-5 days. The most common symptoms described in affected birds with this disease include mild, yellowish diarrhea, lethargy, and decreased appetite.


Fowl adenoviruses can be transmitted to chickens both vertically and horizontally. The virus enters via the alimentary tract (and, in some cases, by the conjunctiva and nasal passages) and primary replication occurs in the nasopharynx and intestine. There is frequently a viremic stage in the infection with widespread dissemination of virus to secondary sites of replication. Infections can often be latent and reactivated with stress.


Diagnosis of IBH is based on virus isolation (from the liver) and characteristic necropsy lesions, which include a pale, friable, swollen liver with focal to extensive necrosis, and large basophilic large basophilic intranuclear inclusion bodies associated with adenovirus-like particles in hepatocytes, situated in the periphery of necrotic foci.

Clinical Signs

Yellowish diarrhea
Weight loss
Decreased appetite
Pale comb/wattles
Poor condition


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Necropsy

Reported Cases

  • Case 1: Inclusion body hepatitis in a Chickens Inclusion body hepatitis (IBH) was diagnosed in a flock of 12-day- old, meat type chickens. Six live and 4 dead birds were submitted to the TVMDL-Center Lab with a history of increased mortality, swollen kidneys, and whitish spots livers. At the necropsy examination livers were pale, mottled with a reticular pattern and with subcapsular hemorrhages; heart sacs had accumulation of a clear fluid in the pericardium; bursas of Fabricius were atrophied; kidneys were swollen and pale; and in pancreases there were pale pin-point spots. The histopathological examination of liver and pancreas sections revealed multifocal to coalescent areas of necrosis associated with mixed inflammatory cell infiltration and large, basophilic intranuclear inclusions, which are characteristic of IBH. Ref

  • Case 2: Inclusion body hepatits in a Turkeys Inclusion body hepatits (IBH) caused by group I adenovirus was diagnosed in several seven to eight week-old turkeys in a flock of 8,000 birds, which had a history of increased mortality. The livers in the turkeys were diffusely enlarged with pale foci of necrosis, inflammation and basophilic intranuclear inclusions in hepatocytes scattered throughout. Ref


There is no treatment described.::



  • Biosecurity
  • Live-licensed vaccine against FAdV8 has been used in Australia.

Scientific References

Age Range

The disease is usually seen in 2-7 week old broiler chickens.

Risk Factors

  • Rescued broilers or broiler breeders.

Also Consider