Introduction. The aetiological agent of infectious bursal disease (IBD), IBD virus (IBDV), belongs to a new group of viruses referred to as ‘birnaviruses’ (Dobos , 1979), which has been characterized only recently (Brown, 1986). There are excellent reviews dealing with the clinical, pathological, serological and epidemiological aspects of IBDV infection (Faragher, 1972; Becht, 1980; Okoye, 1984; Cummings , 1986). The molecular biology of birnaviruses has also been reviewed (Dobos & Roberts, 1983) but with an emphasis on infectious pancreatic necrosis virus (IPNV), the birnavirus genus prototype. The purpose of the present review is to compile information on structural and immunological aspects of IBDV. These are subjects of much recent interest, and have great relevance to the control of IBD in chickens.

IBD is a highly contagious viral disease of young chickens which is characterized by destruction of the lymphoid cells in the bursa of Fabricius; other lymphoid organs are also affected but to a lesser degree (Cheville, 1967).


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