Study: Pig virus easily transmitted among chickens and turkeys

The first animal study of a pig virus’s potential to jump to another species shows that the virus, once introduced to a select group of birds, is easily transmitted to healthy chickens and turkeys.

The researchers who led the work, including senior author Scott Kenney of CFAES’ Food Animal Health Research Program, were part of a team that previously found in a lab setting that the virus could infect cells from multiple species, including chickens and humans.

In this new study, birds that were given the virus developed diarrhea by two days after infection. Healthy birds housed with infected chickens and turkeys also developed diarrhea two days after exposure. That rapid spread of disease surprised the scientists.

“We weren’t even sure the virus would transmit from bird to bird. That’s a significant finding,” Kenney said. 

“It looks like it’s pretty readily able to spread between birds,” he said. “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.”

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An addendum: Kenney and FAHRP colleagues are available to talk to the media about the Wuhan coronavirus.