Poult enteritis complex (PEC) is an economically important disease of young turkeys characterized by diarrhea, poor weight gain, and, in some cases, high mortality. Although PEC is considered to be a polymicrobial disease, numerous viruses, including turkey coronavirus (TCV), turkey astrovirus type 2 (TAstV-2), and avian reoviruses (ARVs), have been associated with PEC-like disease. Real-time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RRT-PCR), a highly sensitive and specific detection method for viral RNA, was developed in a multiplex format for the simultaneous detection of TAstV-2 and TCV and for the detection of two genetic types of ARV. Assay sensitivity was determined using in vitro transcribed RNA and varied by target between 150 gene copies for TAstV-2 alone and 2200 gene copies for TCV when multiplexed. Virus detection was evaluated with samples collected from poults inoculated at 1 day of age with each of the viruses. Cloacal swabs and intestinal samples were obtained at 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 14, 17, and 21 days after inoculation, processed, and tested for virus detection by RRT-PCR. Cloacal swabs from TAstV-2– and TCV-infected poults were shown to have sensitivity for virus detection similar to that of intestinal samples when compared directly. ARV detection by RRT-PCR was compared with virus isolation and had similar sensitivity.
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Vol. 49 • No. 1