Chicken anaemia virus

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Chicken anaemia virus
Virus classification
Group II (ssDNA)
Chicken anaemia virus

Chicken anaemia virus, or CAV, is currently a member of the anelloviridae family which is found worldwide.[1] The virus only affects chickens.[2] CAV is a non-enveloped icosahedral single stranded DNA virus,[3] which causes bone marrow atrophy, anaemia, and severe immunosuppression. Clinical signs of CAV infection are predominantly found in young chicks due to vertical transmission from the breeder hens whose maternal antibodies have not yet formed following exposure. Clinical disease is rare today because of the widespread practice of vaccinating breeders, but the subclinical form of the disease—which normally affects birds more than two weeks of age following horizontal transmission of the virus via the oro-faecal route—is ubiquitous. The virus is very resistant in the environment, making elimination very difficult.

The disease/virus has many names including chicken anaemia, blue wing disease, anaemia dermatitis syndrome, chicken/avian infectious anaemia, haemorrhagic aplastic anaemia syndrome, infectious chicken anaemia, chicken infectious anaemia virus and chicken anaemia agent.[citation needed] When this virus was first discovered in 1979, it was named chicken anemia agent.[1]

Clinical signs[edit]

Clinical signs only occur in chicks less than three weeks of age.[4] During outbreaks of CAV, up to 10% of chicks can die.[5] Signs include a pale comb, wattle, eyelids, legs and carcass, anorexia, weakness, stunting, unthriftiness, weight loss, cyanosis, petechiation and ecchymoses, lethargy and sudden death. Neurological signs include dullness, depression and paresis.

In older chickens, subclinical infection (an infection with no apparent signs) may cause reduced growth rates due to a poor feed conversion rate.[2]


Chicken anaemia virus infects preursor T cells in the thymus and hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow,[2] causing destruction of these cells via apoptosis.[4] This reduces the production of red blood cells (RBC) and white blood cells (WBC), leading to severe immunosuppression and anemia.[2]


A presumptive diagnosis can be made based on the clinical signs and a low haematocrit reading (<27%). Virus isolation, increased antibody titres, immunoperoxidase staining, ELISA, PCR or indirect immunofluorescence can be used to confirm the presence of the virus. Post mortem finding show significant atrophy of the lymphoid organs, haemorrhage throughout the tissues and pale watery bone marrow.

Treatment and control[edit]

There is no specific treatment for infected birds. Culling of infected birds is normally performed in infected commercial flocks. Birds that have been infected develop immunity to the virus.

Vertical spread of the disease can be controlled by the vaccination of breeding hens with both live attenuated and wild vaccines. These vaccines reduce the vertical transmission rate. The vaccine has the ATCvet code QI01AD04 (WHO). Appropriate hygiene and biosecurity measures may be employed to control the disease.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Schat, KA (2009). "Chicken anemia virus". Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology. 331: 151–83. PMID 19230563.
  2. ^ a b c d Markey, B; Leonard, F; Archambault, M; Cullinane, A; Maguire, D (2013). "Chapter 46: Circoviridae". Clinical veterinary microbiology (2nd ed.). Elsevier Health Sciences. pp. 547–550. ISBN 9780702055881.
  3. ^ Fang, L; Li, Y; Wang, Y; Fu, J; Cui, S; Li, X; Chang, S; Zhao, P (2017). "Genetic Analysis of Two Chicken Infectious Anemia Virus Variants-Related Gyrovirus in Stray Mice and Dogs: The First Report in China, 2015". BioMed Research International. 2017: 6707868. doi:10.1155/2017/6707868. PMC 5343220. PMID 28326326.
  4. ^ a b Miller, MM; Jarosinski, KW; Schat, KA (March 2005). "Positive and negative regulation of chicken anemia virus transcription". Journal of Virology. 79 (5): 2859–68. doi:10.1128/JVI.79.5.2859-2868.2005. PMC 548473. PMID 15709005.
  5. ^ Quinn, PJ; Markey, BK; Leonard, FC; Fitzpatrick, ES; Fanning, S (2015). "Chicken anaemia virus infection". Concise Review of Veterinary Microbiology (2nd ed.). John Wiley & Sons. p. 146. ISBN 9781118802687.

2. Chicken Anaemia Virus Disease, expert reviewed and published by Wikivet, accessed 30/08/2011.