An experimental study was conducted to determine the duration of growth depression and virus shedding in turkey poults after oral inoculation with intestinal contents from birds affected with poult enteritis syndrome (PES). Poults at day 14 of age were divided into four groups (groups A, B, C, and D) of 40 poults each and inoculated orally with unfiltered supernatant, filtered supernatant, sediment suspended in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS), or PBS alone (control), respectively. The poults were observed daily for clinical signs, and their growth response, pathology, and pathogen shedding were examined at 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 days postinoculation (DPI). Body weights of eight poults in each group were recorded at each of these intervals followed by euthanasia. Dullness, depression, and diarrhea were observed in birds inoculated with supernatant or sediment suspension. All three treatments significantly reduced body weight gain of poults compared with the control group; average weight loss was 14%. Gross pathologic changes consisted of pale distended intestines with watery contents and distended ceca with frothy and watery contents. Astrovirus and rotavirus were detected in the inoculum by reverse transcription (RT)-PCR, whereas Salmonella was identified on bacterial isolation. Both viruses were detected in treated poults by RT-PCR for up to 10 and 40 DPI, respectively. Of the three treatments, sediment suspension caused maximal decrease in weight gain as well as greatest pathologic lesions followed by unfiltered supernatant and filtered supernatant. These findings suggest a role for bacteria in increasing the severity of PES. Lower weight gain in treated poults (compared with controls) at 9 wk of age also indicates that PES-affected poults may not reach normal weight at marketing, leading to economic losses for the producer.

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