State wildlife agencies have translocated thousands of wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) since the 1930s to reestablish this species. Because of threats to the domestic poultry industry and wild birds, screening for selected infectious agents has become routine since the early 1980s. One of the principal sources for Rio Grande wild turkeys (M. gallopavo intermedia) for translocation purposes was the Edwards Plateau of Texas (USA). Unfortunately, turkey abundance has declined in the southern Edwards Plateau since the late 1970s. Surprisingly few studies have addressed wild turkeys in this region, perhaps reflecting its status as the heart of Rio Grande turkey range. We surveyed 70 free-living Rio Grande wild turkeys from Bandera and Kerr counties, Texas, for evidence of exposure to Salmonella typhimurium, S. pullorum, Mycoplasma gallisepticum, M. meleagridis, M. synoviae, Chlamydophila psittaci, and the avian influenza, Newcastle disease, turkey corona, and reticuloendotheliosis viruses. Of these, 80% (56) were seropositive for both M. gallisepticum and M. synoviae on the serum plate antigen test. Ten of these individuals (14% of total) were positive for M. synoviae by hemagglutination inhibition testing. All other serologic tests were negative. Two adult females sampled in Kerr County, whose body mass was significantly less than that of other adult females trapped in the area, tested positive for reticuloendotheliosis virus (REV) proviral DNA on polymerase chain reaction. Reticuloendotheliosis virus was isolated from one of these individuals. The pathogenesis, transmission, and/or population-level influences of M. gallisepticum, M. synoviae, and REV in Rio Grande wild turkeys deserves further study.
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Vol. 38 • No. 4