Hepatitis-splenomegaly syndrome is caused by avian hepatitis E virus (aHEV), a nonenveloped, single-stranded RNA virus. The economic importance of this disease in the poultry industry is due to the decline in egg production (10%–40%) and the rise in mortality (1%–4%). In the present study, 1540 serum samples from 33 broiler breeder flocks were analyzed by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for the presence of an anti-aHEV antibody. In addition, a diagnostic nested reverse transcriptase-PCR was done on all farm samples. In the serologic study, 66.7% (22/33) of the flocks and 28.5% (439/1540) of the chickens were positive. The molecular study showed that three farms were positive, and PCR products were observed for the conserved regions of the aHEV helicase and capsid virus genes as 386 bp and 242 bp, respectively. It should be noted that clinical and pathologic symptoms including decreased egg production, enlarged livers and spleens, and a slight rise in mortality rate were observed in eight farms. To our knowledge, this is the first documented study on the aHEV identification and its antibody detection in broiler breeder farms in Iran.

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