Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) is an infection that affects poultry flocks, targeting the upper respiratory tract in chickens and causing severe damage to the epithelium, initiating a lasting inflammatory reaction. It is a very contagious disease that spreads rapidly and can affect 100 percent of the birds in a flock.
Infectious bronchitis virus leads, mostly, to decreased weight gain in poultry flocks, but can also cause older birds to stop laying eggs because it negatively impacts their respiratory tract and their reproductive tract. When combined with other bacteria, like mycoplasma or E. coli, it can also cause an increase in mortality.
In addition to maintaining proper sanitation, implementing bio-security measures and keeping their housing comfortable, producers should manage IBV with early vaccination supported by performance trace mineral nutrition.
Even with a plan in place, IBV is hard to manage with vaccines for a couple of reasons. One reason is that IBV affects chicks early in their lives. The other reason is that infectious bronchitis virus is always changing by recombination or by spontaneous mutation.
Managing an Ever-Changing Disease
Infectious bronchitis virus is widespread throughout the world, and it can be found in every poultry operation. The disease has changed a lot over time, and there are now many strains throughout the world (dozens of serotypes and genotypes). This creates challenges not only in diagnosing birds with the disease, but also in vaccinations because birds must be vaccinated against the correct strain to be able to stop the infection more effectively.
There are also local strains of the disease and, in most cases, infection has access to the birds before having an immune response, so the coverage of a vaccine is not guaranteed. This means that a poultry flock, even though it has been vaccinated against a strain of IBV, could still suffer some losses or become infected with a different strain of the disease.
There are some cases where IBV can still cause problems in a flock that has been vaccinated, even though the disease is not severely infecting the flock. For example, in laying hens that have been vaccinated, a different strain of IBV could be causing deformities or absence of egg shells and deteriorating internal egg quality.
Early Vaccination and Performance Trace Minerals Are Key
Since infectious bronchitis virus affects chicks very early in life, and there is very little room for error in poultry production, it’s important to start vaccinations early. In most cases, the birds are vaccinated in the hatchery. It is also important to vaccinate breeders so that chicks receive some maternal protection against IBV.
It’s also important to include Zinpro Performance Minerals® in your poultry nutrition program since vaccines are not able to completely cover and protect birds from infectious bronchitis virus. Including performance trace minerals in a poultry nutrition program can increase the effectiveness of vaccines. Studies show trace minerals, especially zinc, help birds mount a rapid and robust immune response and help strengthen epithelial barriers in the respiratory tract. We have also seen, though, that supplementation with zinc and manganese can improve serological response in breeders, which is transferrable to their chicks.
Zinc and manganese are important immunomodulators. They play important roles in the multiplication and function of immune cells, lymphocyte and phagocyte differentiation, cloning, signaling, activation and de-activation, and the creation of antibodies. Antibodies are blood proteins that are used to neutralize pathogens, bacteria and viruses. Functions of zinc and manganese also include inflammation regulation and tissue healing, re-establishing the primary non-specific epithelial barriers. These minerals improve vitamin A, C and D functions. Since normal feeds have large amounts of trace mineral antagonists, it is important to supplement performance trace mineral sources, which are more metabolically available to the animal. Recent studies have shown that feeding zinc from Availa® Zn helps broilers maintain growth rates, reduce IBV output and experience lower incidences of airsacculitis when facing an IBV challenge.