‘Concerning’ study finds virus can spread to chickens & turkeys

CORONAVIRUS researchers have discovered a disturbing new strain of the disease capable of spreading among poultry.

PUBLISHED: 15:05, Fri, Jan 24, 2020 | UPDATED: 15:10, Fri, Jan 24, 2020

The first study of a pig virus’ ability to transmit to another species shows the virus can easily be passed to healthy chickens and turkeys. The porcine deltacoronavirus researchers were part of a team who previously found the virus could infect cells from multiple species, including poultry and humans.

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The study found birds given the virus developed debilitating diarrhoea only two days after infection.

It looks like it’s pretty readily able to spread between birds

Professor Scott Kenney

And healthy birds housed with infected animals also developed diarrhoea just two days after exposure.

That rapid spread of disease both surprised and concerned researchers at Ohio State University.

Professor Scott Kenney, a senior author of the study, said: “We weren’t even sure the virus would transmit from bird to bird. That’s a significant finding.

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“It looks like it’s pretty readily able to spread between birds.

“It’s a little concerning because if the virus gets into one or two animals in a large layer or broiler house, it would probably permeate through the entire house pretty quickly.

Although susceptibility to a pig virus cannot ethically be tested on humans, previous work in cells showed the virus attaches itself to the same type of receptor in many different host species.

Professor Kenney added: ”If the human cell culture model is as predictive as it was with the chickens, then humans are definitely susceptible to having virus-related disease.

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