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Investigation into the aetiology of runting and stunting syndrome in chickens

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Currently, the aetiology of runting and stunting syndrome (RSS) in chickens is unknown. The impact of RSS on weight gain and microscopic lesions in immunological organs and the duodenum, was investigated in 1-day-old commercial broilers at 12 days following exposure to RSS-contaminated litter. Furthermore, the presence of the viral nucleic acids of three astroviruses and one parvovirus was analysed by in situ hybridization from days 1 through 5 post exposure. A 70% decrease in weight was observed in the RSS-exposed group at the end of the experiments when compared with the unexposed controls. Lesions in the bursa of Fabricius and thymus were present in both groups but were significantly higher at the end of the study in the RSS-exposed group. In contrast, no significant difference in Harderian gland lesions was observed between the groups. Histological lesions in the duodenum were already present 24 h after exposure in the RSS-exposed group only, peaked at day 4 and declined until the end of the study. Results of the in situ hybridization studies clearly indicate replication of three astroviruses (chicken astrovirus, avian nephritis virus [ANV]-1, ANV-2) in the duodenum but not in other organs evaluated. Chicken astrovirus nucleic acids were detected on days 1 and 2 post exposure, while ANV-1 and ANV-2 nucleic acids were observed on several days during the period investigated. Surprisingly, no viral nucleic acid specific for the chicken parvovirus was observed. The results indicate that astroviruses probably play an important role during RSS due to the concurrence of viral RNA detection and lesions in the duodenum.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Population Health, Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center,College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia, Athens,GA,30602, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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