Infection with a pathogenic turkey coronavirus isolate negatively affects growth performance and intestinal morphology of young turkey poults in Canada.
The relative importance of various enteric viruses associated with diarrhea of turkey poults was investigated by an evaluation of specimens received since 1982. Specimens originated from one to eight week old turkey poults, with mild to severe diarrhea, from 114 flocks in 42 commercial operations located in southern Quebec. The acute phase of enteritis occurred usually in poults between two and four weeks of age. Clarified intestinal contents were examined by direct electron microscopy and enzyme immunoassays. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays were performed with antisera to bovine rotavirus group antigen, avian reovirus types 1 to 5, and the prototype strain of the turkey enteric coronavirus. The presence of viruses could be demonstrated by electron microscopy in 55.3% of the specimens, and at least five different viruses were incriminated either alone or in combination. The coronavirus was by far the most common enteric virus with a prevalence of 47.5%. By enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, rotavirus, reovirus and turkey coronavirus were detected in 14.5%, 18.1% and 61.4% of the specimens, respectively. By electron microscopy, 56.6% of these cases were positive for at least one virus.