In Ethiopia, the major poultry products come from backyards chickens. But in recent times, more commercialized poultry farms are flourishing having considerable contribution to the supply of poultry products, especially to urban areas. There are also attempts to upgrade the productivity of local chickens through distribution of exotic and cross breeds to the rural areas. These endeavors, however, are hampered from providing the expected benefits due to various constraints, among which viral diseases are of greater concern. Some of the viral diseases are thought to be introduced concurrent with intensification of poultry industry. In addition, the growing numbers of exotic flocks in the backyard system increases the number of birds which are at risk of getting infected with pathogens in the environment. The present review article deals with major viral diseases of chickens, their current status and future challenges to the poultry industry in Ethiopia. Among these, Newcastle disease, infectious bursal disease and Marek’s disease become serious threats to poultry production. Due to limited research activities, the epidemiology and the total economic damage caused by this disease are not fully known. Frequent outbreaks and occurrence of new strains for these viral diseases became a challenge to the juvenile poultry industry in Ethiopia.
Key words: Chickens, Ethiopia, infectious bursal disease, Marek’s disease, Newcastle disease, viral diseases.
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