The present report documents the occurrence of a poxvirus infection in commercial meat turkeys. The affected farm had six flocks, with a total of 11,680 birds at different ages; birds from two of these flocks were affected. The clinical picture was characterized by severe epithelial lesions and proliferations on the head and neck regions as reported for the cutaneous form of poxvirus infection. Except for these lesions, no adverse clinical signs or gross pathologic lesions were observed. Only a low number of birds was affected (n = 20) and no increase of mortality could be seen. Bacteriologic investigations from the lesions revealed multiresistant Staphylococcus aureus. Eosinophilic inclusions (Bollinger bodies) in histologic examinations in the cytoplasm of keratinocytes were noticeable. Typical pox virions were demonstrated by electron microscopy, and poxvirus was isolated on the chorioallantoic membrane of specific-pathogen-free chicken eggs. Further identification of the poxvirus species was carried out by PCR and sequencing, revealing an infection with the species fowlpox. Layers in vicinity of the turkey farm that also were affected by fowlpox were considered as potential source of infection. Although it is assumed that avian poxviruses are strongly species specific, the present case report reinforces the changing picture of poxvirus infections in turkeys. Furthermore, it supports the assumption of previous data that fowlpox virus has to be seen as recently emerging pathogen in turkeys.
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Vol. 55 • No. 4