In 2011, the Minnesota Rehabilitation Center submitted four dead Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) for necropsy to the Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. All four chickadees were underweight and dehydrated and their intestinal contents were watery and yellowish. No significant lesions were observed upon histopathologic examination. Viral particles of the family Reoviridae were detected after negative-contrast electron microscopic examination of intestinal contents. Analysis by reverse transcriptase PCR and sequencing confirmed the presence of a reovirus. Based on phylogenetic analysis, the chickadee reovirus had 97.1% to 98.3% and 89.4% to 97.8% nucleotide identity with turkey enteric reoviruses from apparently healthy and enteritis-affected turkey poults, respectively. The chickadee reovirus had only 56.5% and 58.5% nucleotide and 54.5% and 56.8% amino acid identity with psittacine reovirus and Tvarminne avian virus, respectively. These results indicate that the chickadee reovirus is closely related to turkey reoviruses.
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Vol. 50 • No. 4