Camille Trautman, Tarleton State University

(REV)ised: a New Search for Reticuloendotheliosis Virus

Abstract: Reticuloendotheliosis virus (REV) is an immunosuppressive avian retrovirus that infects B-cells in various galliform birds, such as turkeys and ducks. The virus also infects the endangered Attwater’s prairie chicken (APC) and has been an obstacle in conservation efforts. Infected individuals may exhibit symptoms such as anemia, feathering abnormalities, runting, and neoplasia. REV’s mode of transmission and prevalence in nature is relatively unknown. Previous studies have demonstrated that REV can integrate into the fowlpox (FWPV) viral genome. We hypothesize that wild turkeys in Texas are reservoirs for transmission of REV by insects, perhaps integrated within FWPV, to other birds such as APCs. To the determine the prevalence of REV infection in wild turkeys in Texas, blood samples from 331 native wild Rio Grande turkeys and 88 imported Eastern wild turkeys were collected between January 2016 and April 2017. REV was detected by proviral PCR amplification in six counties at prevalence rates of 5% – 10% and in one individual transported from West Virginia. In addition, a pox sample was collected from one wild turkey identified with FWPV-like symptoms. A 740-basepair REV env and FWPV ORF 203 integration site was amplified from the pox sample and confirmed using Sanger sequencing. Prior to this case, integrated REV-FWPV had only been detected in densely-populated commercial flocks. To survey for REV in uninfectable bird species in remote locations, we developed a dried blood spot antibody elution method adapted from protocols used for human-specific viruses such as hepatitis C and measles. Eluted IgY REV-specific antibodies were detected using enzyme-linked immunofluorescence assays (ELISAs). These methods provide a far more affordable and convenient mode of detecting REV-antibodies, which can be used to detect the presence of virus in a region, even in uninfectable hosts. In the future, we plan to adapt newly developed ultra-sensitive assays for REV detection

Presentation Author(s):
Camille Trautman*

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