Genetic Sequencing of Attwater's Prairie Chicken Avian Poxvirus and Evaluation of Its Potential Role in Reticuloendotheliosis Virus Outbreaks Academic Article uri icon


  • Efforts to breed Attwater's prairie chickens (APC; Tympanuchus cupido attwateri) in captivity to supplement wild populations of this endangered bird have been negatively affected by infections with Avipoxvirus and reticuloendotheliosis virus (REV). Because REV can be integrated into the genome of fowlpox virus (FPV) and may be transmitted in that manner, identifying the source of avipox disease in APC is important to mitigate the impact of this virus. Tissue samples from APC were collected from breeding programs in Texas from 2016 to 2020. These samples consisted of 11 skin lesions and three internal organs from a total of 14 different birds that died of unknown causes or were euthanized. Avipoxvirus was detected by PCR and isolation in embryonating chicken eggs in all skin lesion samples but was not detected in internal organs. Using sequence analysis of FPV polymerase and 4b genes, we determined that 10 out of 11 Avipoxvirus detections resided within the fowlpox clade and a single sample resided within the canarypox clade. REV sequences were detected in all FPV positive samples and in all internal organ tissues but were not detected in the sample matching the canarypox clade. Analysis of REV sequences and PCR detection showed the REV infecting APC was consistent with REV-A and had little variability on analysis of the U3 region of the long terminal repeat. The results of this study indicate control of REV in APC breeding colonies may benefit by a vaccination program targeting FPV and REV. However, a commercially available vaccine for REV is not available at this time.

published proceedings

  • Avian Diseases

author list (cited authors)

  • Hofmeister, E., Georgousi, F., Lund, M., Ferro, P. J., Flanagan, J., Haefele, H., & Morrow, M.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Hofmeister, Erik||Georgousi, Fiona||Lund, Melissa||Ferro, Pamela J||Flanagan, Joe||Haefele, Holly||Morrow, Michael

publication date

  • August 2021