Recent studies have revealed the presence of astroviruses and rotavirus in numerous poorly performing and healthy chicken and turkey flocks in the United States. The phylogenetic analysis of the sequence data produced during these studies has identified four groups of avian astroviruses circulating in the United States: turkey astrovirus types 1 and 2 (TAstV-1 and TAstV-2), avian nephritis virus (ANV), and a chicken-origin astrovirus (CAstV). As the molecular epidemiology of poultry enteric disease is poorly understood, the development of updated diagnostic assays is crucial to the continued surveillance and management of enteric disease in affected as well as healthy flocks. This report details the development of a multiplex reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay specific for astroviruses and avian rotavirus in turkey-origin and chicken-origin samples. The assay consists of two multiplex tests, one for turkey-origin samples and one for chicken-origin samples. The turkey sample test differentially identifies TAstV-1, TAstV-2, ANV, and avian rotavirus. The test for chicken-origin samples differentially identifies CAstV, ANV, and avian rotavirus. Assay sensitivity varied by target sequence between approximately 10 copies for avian rotavirus alone and approximately 2 × 106 copies for TAstV-2 in the presence of a heterologous competitor RNA sequence. Each test was shown to be specific for the intended target by testing for cross-reaction with other common avian enteric viruses. The specificity was further shown by testing 109 chicken specimens and 32 turkey specimens from commercial flocks with the appropriate test and sequencing the RT-PCR amplicons to confirm amplification of the correct target.
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Vol. 51 • No. 3