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Emergence of reticuloendotheliosis virus in pigeons in Guangdong Province, Southern China

Abstract

Reticuloendotheliosis virus (REV), an important immunosuppressive pathogen, has many hosts, including chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, and wild birds. Clinically, REV may lead to increased susceptibility to other pathogens, resulting in serious tissue damage (especially tumors) and the death of its host. In this study, we encountered a disease outbreak resulting in a large number of deaths of pigeons in Guangdong Province, Southern China. Histopathological analysis revealed apparent tumor-like lesions in multiple organs of pigeons. PCR assays for detection of tumor-associated pathogens (REV, avian leukosis virus, and Marek’s disease virus) in poultry revealed the presence of REV sequences only. Moreover, fowlpox virus (FPV) with an insertion of REV long terminal repeat (LTR) sequences was also considered, but it was excluded using a specific PCR assay. To gain more genetic information, two full-length REV genome sequences were determined and found to have the highest nucleotide sequence similarity (99.9 %) and the closest genetic relationship to a vaccine strain (MD-2) and had a more distant genetic relationship (94.3 %) to a duck-origin strain (ATCC-VR775). To confirm the presence of REVs in pigeons, specific-pathogen-free (SPF) chickens and healthy pigeons were inoculated with microfiltered tumor tissue homogenates and were found to be susceptible to infection with REV. To our knowledge, this is the first report of REV in pigeons, and the data suggest that pigeons may be the natural host of REV.

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Acknowledgments

We thank three anonymous reviewers for the critical review. This work was supported by grants (Nos. 2012B040302010, 2013B06180003, 2014B040404061 and 2015B050501007) from Guangdong Provincial Department of Science and Technology.

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Correspondence to Shao-Lun Zhai.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Animal use and handling protocols were approved by the ethical and ethics commission (Institute of Animal Health, Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Sciences, China).

Additional information

S.-L. Zhai, S.-N. Chen and T. Lin contributed equally to this study.

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Zhai, SL., Chen, SN., Lin, T. et al. Emergence of reticuloendotheliosis virus in pigeons in Guangdong Province, Southern China. Arch Virol 161, 2007–2011 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00705-016-2870-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00705-016-2870-3

Keywords

  • Reticuloendotheliosis
  • Reticuloendotheliosis virus
  • First report
  • Pigeons
  • South China