Infectious bronchitis is an acute and highly contagious disease in chickens caused by the infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), which has caused significant economic losses to the poultry industry worldwide. The antigenic variant, the QX-like genotype (GI-19 lineage), has been currently reported in epidemics in East Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. We first reported an epidemic of Japanese QX-like IBVs genetically related to Chinese and South Korean strains in the Kyushu region of Japan in 2020. However, because their nationwide prevalence was unknown, we performed a nationwide survey. The testing of 419 reverse transcription (RT)-PCR–positive samples (376 layers and 43 broilers) of IBV field strains between April 2016 and March 2022 detected two QX-like IBVs in 2019 and 2021 broiler samples from one region. A survey of fecal samples collected from 122-layer farms nationwide between November 2022 and January 2023 detected QX-like IBV genes from seven farms in various regions. Phylogenetic tree analysis on the basis of the S1 gene showed that all QX-like IBVs detected in Japan were genetically related to recent Chinese and South Korean strains. A new RT-PCR assay was developed to distinguish between QX-like IBV and other IBV variants prevalent in Japan, whose results were consistent with those of previously reported identification methods. These results suggest that QX-like IBV is rapidly spreading in Japan and that countermeasures are necessary.

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