Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) is a gamma coronavirus that causes a highly contagious disease in chickens. The virus can affect the upper respiratory tract and the reproductive tract, and some strains can cause a nephritis. Different serotypes and genetic types of the virus have been identified worldwide and for the most part do not cross-protect. In addition, new types of the virus continue to arise due to mutations and recombination events in the viral genome, making this virus difficult to identify and extremely difficult to control. Surveillance and identification of IBV types is extremely important for control of the disease and the advancement of molecular methods have aided in this pursuit. Genetic typing of IBV, which involves reverse transcription–PCR amplification and sequence analysis of the S1 glycoprotein gene, has revolutionized diagnosis and identification of this virus by making it possible to type and compare the relatedness of a large number of virus isolates in a short period of time. The purpose of this review is to give an update on the strains of IBV currently circulating in commercial chickens worldwide and hopefully to present a clear picture of the relationship between many of these viruses. The information on IBV types presented herein is from published manuscripts, submissions to GenBank, our own unpublished data, and personal communications with scientists and diagnosticians working with IBV worldwide.

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