Serotype 4 fowl adenovirus (FAdV-4) is the main pathogen for hydropericardium syndrome (HPS) in chickens. It has caused major economic losses in the global poultry industry. Currently, FAdV-4′s transmission routes in chickens remain unclear. Here we investigate the airborne transmission routes of FAdV-4 in chickens. A total of 45 ten-day-old chickens were equally divided into three groups (infected group/isolator A, airborne group/isolator B, and control group/isolator C). Of note, isolators A and B were connected by a leak-free pipe. The results showed that the virus could form a viral aerosol, detected in isolators two days post infection (dpi). The viral aerosol reached a peak at 4 dpi in the infected group. Healthy chickens in the airborne group were infected by the virus at 8 dpi. The chickens of the airborne group demonstrated subclinical symptoms capable of shedding the virus for some time. This finding suggests that FAdV-4 can be efficiently transmitted among chickens by aerosol transmission. These findings have significant implications for developing strategies to control this infectious disease epidemic.
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