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Avian Encephalomyelitis (AE)

Dr.Kedar Karki
Avian encephalomyelitis
• Avian encephalomyelitis (AE) is a viral
disease of young chickens caused by a
virus from the Hepatovirus family and
characterised by central nervous system
signs (Epidemic Tremors). Primarily a viral
infection of poultry, chickens, turkey and
Avian encephalomyelitis
• First reported in 1932, the virus grows in
the yolk sac and brain of the chicken
embryo in eggs from nonimmune hens.
Most prevalent in chickens 1 to 6 weeks of
• Susceptible chickens more than 5 weeks
old will develop antibodies to AE, but do
not show clinical signs at the time of
• AE occurs world wide and occurs in all
seasons of the year, but most cases are
reported from January to June.
• Egg-passage transmission from infected
hen to chick is the most common mode of
spread, but direct contact of susceptible
hatchlings with infected birds accounts for
spread within the flock. Indirect spread via
fecal contamination of feed and water also
occurs. The virus can survive at least 4
weeks in droppings.
Clinical signs
• Clinical signs appear at 7 to 10 days of age.
Tremors of the head and neck are presumptive
of the disease in the flock hence the name
"Epidemic tremor". Affected chicks first may
show a dull expression of the eyes, followed by
progressive in coordination, sitting on hocks,
tremors of the head and neck, and finally
paralysis or prostration. Muscular tremors are
best seen by exercising the bird. Affected birds
are inactive; some may refuse to walk or walk on
their hocks.
• Chickens of all ages are susceptible, but clinical signs of
encephalitis only develop in those younger than four weeks.
The disease is similar in turkeys and chickens. Following
initial dull expression of the eyes, the following signs are
• progressive ataxia with the chick losing control of legs,
sitting on its haunches and falling onto its side;
• tremor of the head and neck.
• Ataxia progresses to paralysis and death results from
inability to feed or drink, or through being trampled. Some
birds recover, and others may survive with persistent
clinical signs. In susceptible adult birds, infection is usually
sub-clinical, although there may be a transient drop in egg
• Diagnosis is confirmed by fluorescent
antibody test, virus isolation and agar gel
precipitin test. AE must be differentiated
from other encephalitic diseases such as
ND, EEE, MD etc.
• There is no treatment for acute outbreaks.
Control is through prevention. Affected
birds should be removed, killed and
incinerated. Recovered chicks are
unthrifty. Prove good nursing during
outbreaks will help with mortality.
Prevention is by selecting hatching eggs
from immune breeder flocks. Lifetime
immunity is acquired through vaccination
or recovery from a natural outbreaks.