Whilst we are all very familiar with Marek's disease causing tumours in chicken flocks, Avian Leukosis is another tumour causing virus that can have equally devastating effects.
Avian leukosis virus belongs to a family of viruses called retroviruses. Included in this family are bovine leukosis (affecting cattle), feline leukosis (affecting cats) and HIV. Note that the virus cannot spread to humans or any other species.
Like all retroviruses, the virus is relatively weak and does not survive well outside of the birds. Hence it is only transmitted via mating, through the egg and through biting pests (such as red mites and biting flies).
Accute heart failure is commonly called a Heart Attack. This is more common in large fowl that have been bred for size, especially cock birds but also in hybrid broilers that put on weight quickly.
For example, you keep large fowl Orpingtons and let your birds out in the morning, everything seems fine and then for no apparent reason, you find your large fowl cock bird who appeared to be healthy, dead in the run a few hours later, this is often due to a heart attack.