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Journal of the South African Veterinary Association

On-line version ISSN 2224-9435
Print version ISSN 1019-9128


JOUBERT, Hilda W.; AITCHISON, Henry; MAARTENS, Louis H.  and  VENTER, Estelle H.. Molecular differentiation and pathogenicity of Aviadenoviruses isolated during an outbreak of inclusion body hepatitis in South Africa. J. S. Afr. Vet. Assoc. [online]. 2014, vol.85, n.1, pp.01-08. ISSN 2224-9435.

Fowl adenovirus (FAdV) is a member of the genus Aviadenovirus and causes a number of economically important poultry diseases. One of these diseases, inclusion body hepatitis (IBH), has a worldwide distribution and is characterised by acute mortality (5% - 20%) in production chickens. The disease was first described in the United States of America in 1963 and has also been reported in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, France and Ireland, but until now, not in South Africa. Adenoviruses isolated from the first outbreak of IBH in South Africa were able to reproduce the disease in chicken embryo livers. The aim of the present study was to characterise the viruses and determine the pathogenicity of the FAdV strains responsible for the first reported case of IBH in South Africa. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the L1 loop region of the fowl adenovirus hexon gene using degenerate primer pair hexon A/B was used to identify the viruses that were isolated. Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) of the amplification products was used for the differentiation of 14 isolates of fowl adenovirus. Sequencing of the PCR products followed by amino acid comparison and phylogenetic analysis using the L1 loop region of the hexon protein was done to determine the identity of the isolates. Amino acid sequences of the hexon genes of all the South African isolates were compared with those of reference strains representing FAdV species. Amino acid comparison of 12 South Africa field isolates to FAdV reference strains revealed a high sequence identity (> 93.33%) with reference strains T8-A and 764. Two of the isolates had high sequence identity (93.40%) with reference strains P7-A, C2B and SR48. Phylogenetic analysis of the L1 loop region of the hexon protein of all 14 South African isolates was consistent with their RFLP clusters. The mortality rates of embryos challenged with 106 egg infective doses (EID50) FAdV 2 were 80% - 87% and mortality rates for embryos challenged with 105.95 (EID50) FAdV 8b were 65% - 80%.

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