Only one virus, Avipox, has been documented previously in wild birds in Hawaii. Using immunohistochemistry and PCR, we found that two native threatened Hawaiian Geese (Branta sandvicensis), one with multicentric histiocytoma and the other with toxoplasmosis, and one Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) with avian pox were infected with reticuloendotheliosis virus (REV). The virus was isolated from one of the geese by cell culture. Surveys of other Hawaiian geese with various pathologies, avian pox cases, and pox viral isolates using PCR failed to reveal REV, suggesting that the virus is uncommon, at least in samples examined. The full genome of the Gag, Pol, and Env genes were sequenced for all three infected birds and revealed geographic divergence of the Pol gene, suggesting it to be under strong selective pressure. Our finding of REV in Hawaii makes this only the second virus documented in native Hawaiian birds associated with pathology. Moreover, the presence of REV in a pelagic seabird is unusual. Future surveys should seek the reservoir of the virus in efforts to trace its origins.
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Vol. 58 • No. 4