Molecular characterization and phylogenetic analyses of virulent infectious bronchitis viruses isolated from chickens in Eastern Saudi Arabia


Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) is one of the major respiratory viral threats for chickens. Despite the intensive application of IBV vaccines, several outbreaks have been reported worldwide. Here, we report several IBV outbreaks in thirteen poultry farms in Eastern Saudi Arabia (ESA) from 2013 to 2014. The main goals of the current study were as follows: (1) isolation and molecular characterization of the currently circulating strains in ESA (Al-Hasa, Dammam, and Buqayq) and (2) evaluation of the immune status of these birds to IBV. To achieve our goals, tissue specimens (trachea, lungs, liver, kidney and cecal tonsils) and sera were collected. High morbidity up to 100% and mortality ranging from 18 to 90% were reported. Severe infection was observed in the trachea, bronchi, and kidneys of the infected birds. IBV strains were isolated using embryonated chicken eggs. The isolated viruses induced hemorrhage, dwarfing and death of the inoculated embryos 3–5 days post-infection. The circulating IBV strains were identified by sequencing the partial IBV-N and IBV-S1 genes. These viruses showed 95% sequence identity to Indian, Italian, Egyptian and Chinese strains and were quite distinct from the locally used vaccines on the genomic level. Interestingly, high antibody titers against IBV were reported in some of these farms, suggesting the presence of new virulent strains in ESA. The seroconversion of infected birds was reported among the affected flocks. In conclusion, very virulent IBV strains are currently circulating in ESA. Further studies are currently in progress to molecularly characterize these IBV strains.

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This work was supported by the King Faisal University Deanship of research Grant No. (142017). We also than Mr. Ahmed Alkhars with his laboratory technical helps during the virus isolation and pathogenicity index.

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Correspondence to Maged Gomaa Hemida.

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Supplementary material 6 Map showing the geographic coordinates of the farms and bird sampling. A map showing the geographical locations of the farms under study in Eastern Saudi Arabia. The farms are located around three major cities in ESA (Al-Ahsa (Al-Hofuf), Dammam and Buqayq). A circle highlighted the location of these farms in ESA (TIFF 3088 kb)

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Hemida, M.G., Al-Hammadi, M.A., Daleb, A.H.S. et al. Molecular characterization and phylogenetic analyses of virulent infectious bronchitis viruses isolated from chickens in Eastern Saudi Arabia. VirusDis. 28, 189–199 (2017) doi:10.1007/s13337-017-0375-7

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  • Eastern Saudi Arabia
  • Infectious bronchitis virus
  • PCR