Infectious Laryngotracheitis – Backyard Chickens’ Health and Care

Illnesses in chickens

What is Infectious Laryngotracheitis?

Infectious Laryngotracheitis (ILT) is a highly contagious viral respiratory disease that affects chickens. The disease is caused by a herpesvirus and can cause severe respiratory symptoms, decreased egg production, and high mortality rates in affected members of your flock.

Infectious Laryngotracheitis Symptoms

The symptoms of Infectious Laryngotracheitis can vary depending on the severity of the infection, but the disease is generally characterised by the following symptoms:

• Severe respiratory symptoms, including coughing, gasping, and wheezing
• Discharge from the eyes and nostrils
• Decreased egg production or weight gain in affected birds
• Nervous signs, such as head shaking and tremors

Infectious Laryngotracheitis Causes

Infectious Laryngotracheitis is caused by a herpesvirus that is highly contagious and can be transmitted through contact with infected birds, their poop, or contaminated equipment. The virus can survive in the environment for several weeks, making it difficult to eradicate once it has infected a flock.

Infectious Laryngotracheitis Diagnosis

Diagnosing Infectious Laryngotracheitis can be challenging, as the symptoms can be similar to other poultry diseases. A veterinarian specialising in poultry health can help to diagnose the disease through a combination of clinical signs, laboratory tests, and post-mortem examinations.

Infectious Laryngotracheitis Treatment

There is no specific treatment for Infectious Laryngotracheitis, and affected birds typically recover on their own within a few weeks to a few months. Supportive care such as providing a clean, warm, and dry environment with access to food and water can help affected birds recover more quickly. In severe cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent secondary bacterial infections.

Infectious Laryngotracheitis Prevention

Preventing Infectious Laryngotracheitis is important for maintaining the health and productivity of your flock. The following measures can help prevent the spread of Infectious Laryngotracheitis:

• Practice good biosecurity by preventing contact with other flocks and wild birds, and disinfecting equipment and surfaces regularly
• Vaccinate your birds against Infectious Laryngotracheitis, which can help prevent the spread of the disease
• Provide a clean and well-ventilated living environment for your hens, with plenty of space to move around
• Provide a well-balanced and nutritious diet, with access to clean water at all times
• Monitor your flock for any signs of illness, and isolate any sick birds to prevent the spread of disease


Infectious Laryngotracheitis is a highly contagious viral respiratory disease that can have a negative impact on the health and productivity of your flock. Practicing good biosecurity, vaccinating your birds, and providing a clean and healthy living environment can help prevent the spread of Infectious Laryngotracheitis and other poultry diseases. If you suspect that your birds may be infected with Infectious Laryngotracheitis or any other illness, seek the advice of a veterinarian who specialises in poultry health.

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