Duck Viral Hepatitis


A viral disease of ducks occurring worldwide and previously a scheduled disease in UK. Morbidity is around 100% and mortality 0-95%.

The disease is transmitted by infected ducks and other waterfowl and spreads rapidly, recovered birds carrying the virus for 8 weeks. The infective agent, a picornavirus may also survive for ten weeks in brooders and five weeks in faeces. A different picornavirus causes a similar condition in North America.


  • Sudden death.
  • Death in good condition.
  • Depression.
  • Fall on side, paddling of legs, arching of back, rapid deterioration and death, often in opisthotonus.

Post-mortem lesions

  • Liver swollen.
  • Punctate/diffuse haemorrhages.
  • Kidneys and spleen swollen.
  • Microscopically – focal necrosis, bile duct proliferation and inflammation.


History, lesions, SN serology, isolation in CE (causes stunting of 9 day embryo).

Differentiate from Duck plague (viral enteritis), Duck septicaemia (anatipestifer), coccidiosis, Newcastle disease, Influenza and a ‘Type II Variant’ hepatitis caused by Astrovirus.


Antiserum, 0.5 ml serum of recovered birds given intramuscularly.


Vaccination and/or antiserum, breeder vaccination. Live, only slightly attenuated vaccine is applied at day old by foot web stab and may be repeated in breeding birds to provide maternal immunity.


Back to Poultry Disease