Avian pneumovirus

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Virus classification
Group: Group V ((−)ssRNA)
Order: Mononegavirales
Family: Paramyxoviridae
Genus: Metapneumovirus
Species: Avian metapneumovirus

Avian metapneumovirus (also known as Turkey Rhinotracheitis Virus − Swollen Head Syndrome) is a virus which infects primarily turkeys and, to a lesser extent, chickens. Other domesticated fowl such as pheasants can also be affected.

Transmission is via the respiratory tract and the disease is widespread over most continents. High stocking density allows the virus to spread more easily.

Clinical signs and diagnosis[edit]

Clinical signs being as mild respiratory symptoms such as nasal discharge, tachypnoea and dyspnoea. The reproductive system can be infected and this leads to a drop in egg production.

Turkey poults can be severely affected and show neurological signs and death.

Young birds that survive the infection will be stunted.

ELISA enables a serological diagnosis. Viral neutralisation, indirect immunofluorescence and now PCR can detect antigen in tissues.

In turkeys, viral isolation can be performed on samples from the respiratory tract and mouth.

Treatment and control[edit]

There is no specific treatment but antibiotics should be given to prevent secondary bacterial infections.

A vaccine is available for turkeys and chickens and is effective in controlling the disease.

Stocking density should be reduced if possible, and ventilation maximised as another method of control.