A longitudinal survey to detect enteric viruses in intestinal contents collected from turkeys in eight commercial operations and one research facility was performed using molecular detection methods. Intestinal contents were collected from turkeys prior to placement, with each flock resampled at 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 wk of age. The samples were screened for astrovirus, rotavirus, reovirus, and turkey coronavirus (TCoV) by a reverse transcriptase and polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and for groups 1 and 2 adenovirus by PCR. Rotavirus was the only virus detected prior to placement (7 of 16 samples examined). All of the commercial flocks were positive for rotavirus and astrovirus from 2 until 6 wk of age, and most were intermittently positive until 12 wk of age, when the birds were processed. Of the 96 samples collected from birds on the farms, 89.5% were positive for astrovirus, and 67.7% were positive for rotavirus. All flocks were negative for TCoV, reovirus, and group 1 adenovirus at all time points, and positive for group 2 adenovirus (hemorrhagic enteritis virus) at 6 wk of age. All the flocks monitored were considered healthy or normal by field personnel. Turkeys placed on research facilities that had been empty for months and thoroughly cleaned had higher body weights and lower feed conversion rates at 5 wk of age when compared to turkeys placed on commercial farms. Intestinal samples collected at 1, 2, and 3 wk of age from these turkeys were free of enteric viruses. This report demonstrates that astroviruses and rotaviruses may be present within a turkey flock through the life of the flock. Comparison of infected birds with one group of turkeys that were negative for enteric viruses by the methods used here suggests that astrovirus and/or rotavirus may affect production. The full impact on flock performance needs to be further determined.
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Vol. 51 • No. 3