Avian hepatitis E virus infection detected in Finland for the first time


<p>Avian hepatitis E virus infection has been detected in Finland for the first time at an individual egg-laying henhouse. The infection was confirmed in tests carried out by the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira in January 2013. It has not been detected that avian hepatitis E virus infection would spread to mammals or humans. The eggs may be small in size, but are completely edible.</p>

Hepatitis E virus may cause raised mortality rates and reduced egg production. The egg quality is normal. If young birds are infected, it may delay the start of egg-laying and reduce peak production.

Good hygiene prevents spread of disease
Hepatitis E virus is transmitted via faeces that have entered the bird’s gastrointestinal tract. Good production hygiene is also important, as is cleaning and disinfection of the halls and equipment between bird batches in addition to preventative disease protection.

There is no treatment or vaccination for the disease. Spread of the disease from mother hens to chicks has not been detected.

It is typical to the disease that the birds are anaemic, weary and small in size. Based on pathological findings, the birds show an enlarged spleen, and some have visual changes in the liver, such as an enlarged liver. The symptoms often appear in birds aged 30 to 70 weeks.

Samples can be sent to Evira
It is possible to send birds that have died of natural courses as a sample to Evira because the virus causes higher than normal mortality rates in older egg-laying hens and broiler breeders.
Samples can also be sent if reduced egg production or typical symptoms of the disease are observed in the birds.

Instructions for taking and sending poultry samples  (in Finnish)

Link to the instructions for disease protection at poultry farms by the Association for Animal Disease Prevention  ETT (in Finnish)

Further information:
Päivikki Perko-Mäkelä, Senior Researcher, Head of Section, tel. +358 (0)400 287 536
Production Animal and Wildlife Health Research Unit, Production Animal Section

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