The pathogenicity of turkey astrovirus 2001 (TAstV2001) and turkey astrovirus 1987 (TAstV1987) in specific-pathogen-free (SPF) turkey embryos and commercial poults was investigated. The virus shedding in poults was monitored using electron microscopy (EM) and reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) during the 14-day experimental period. Both viruses caused enteritis and growth depression in SPF turkey embryos and poults. The TAstV2001 did not induce macroscopic or microscopic lesions in thymuses and bursas of embryos or poults. No macroscopic changes were observed in thymuses and bursas of embryos and poults inoculated with TAstV1987, and no statistically significant differences in bursa weight/body weight ratios (P > 0.05) were detected. However, TAstV1987 infection resulted in microscopic lesions in bursas but not in thymuses of infected embryos and poults. Both TAstV2001 and TAstV1987 were shed during the whole 14-day experimental period as detected by EM and RT-PCR. These findings indicated that both TAstV1987 and TAstV2001 are etiologic agents of turkey enteritis. In addition, TAstV1987 might cause impairment of the immune system of infected poults. The pathogenicity of TAstV1987 is somewhat different from TAstV2001.
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Vol. 50 • No. 4