Infectious Bursal Disease – Backyard Chickens’ Health and Care

Illnesses in chickens

What is Infectious Bursal Disease?

Infectious bursal disease (IBD), also known as Gumboro disease, is a highly contagious viral disease that affects young chickens. IBD is one of the most economically significant diseases of poultry worldwide and can cause significant mortality and morbidity in affected flocks.

Infectious Bursal Disease Symptoms

The clinical signs of IBD can vary depending on the age of the chook and the strain of the virus involved. In young pullets, the disease can cause sudden death, depression, ruffled feathers, and diarrhoea. Affected chickens may also show a hunched appearance, lack of appetite, and dehydration. In older hens, the disease can cause a drop in egg production and poor shell quality.

Infectious Bursal Disease Causes

IBD is caused by the IBDV, which can be transmitted by direct or indirect contact between infected and susceptible birds. The virus is highly resistant in the environment and can survive for prolonged periods on contaminated surfaces, feed, and water. The virus is also resistant to many disinfectants and can remain viable in poop for several weeks. The disease can be spread by mechanical vectors such as contaminated equipment, vehicles, or personnel.

Infectious Bursal Disease Diagnosis

Diagnosis of IBD is based on the clinical signs and postmortem findings. Laboratory confirmation can be obtained by virus isolation, antigen detection, or serological testing. Serological testing is the most common method used for routine surveillance of IBD.

Infectious Bursal Disease Treatment

There is no specific treatment for IBD, and infected birds should be isolated and removed from the flock to prevent further spread of the virus. Supportive care can be provided to affected birds to help reduce clinical signs and maintain hydration.

Infectious Bursal Disease Prevention

The most effective way to prevent IBD is through the use of vaccination. Several commercially available vaccines are available that provide protection against different strains of IBDV. Biosecurity measures, including proper cleaning and disinfection of equipment, quarantine of new birds, and limiting access to the flock, can also help prevent the spread of the virus.


Infectious bursal disease is a significant disease of young chickens that can cause significant economic losses for the poultry industry. Good biosecurity measures, vaccination, and prompt diagnosis are key components of effective IBD control programs.

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