Coronaviruses in poultry and other birds

Avian Pathol. 2005 Dec;34(6):439-48. doi: 10.1080/03079450500367682.


The number of avian species in which coronaviruses have been detected has doubled in the past couple of years. While the coronaviruses in these species have all been in coronavirus Group 3, as for the better known coronaviruses of the domestic fowl (infectious bronchitis virus [IBV], in Gallus gallus), turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) and pheasant (Phasianus colchicus), there is experimental evidence to suggest that birds are not limited to infection with Group 3 coronaviruses. In China coronaviruses have been isolated from peafowl (Pavo), guinea fowl (Numida meleagris; also isolated in Brazil), partridge (Alectoris) and also from a non-gallinaceous bird, the teal (Anas), all of which were being reared in the vicinity of domestic fowl. These viruses were closely related in genome organization and in gene sequences to IBV. Indeed, gene sequencing and experimental infection of chickens indicated that the peafowl isolate was the H120 IB vaccine strain, while the teal isolate was possibly a field strain of a nephropathogenic IBV. Thus the host range of IBV does extend beyond the chicken. Most recently, Group 3 coronaviruses have been detected in greylag goose (Anser anser), mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) and pigeon (Columbia livia). It is clear from the partial genome sequencing of these viruses that they are not IBV, as they have two additional small genes near the 3' end of the genome. Twenty years ago a coronavirus was isolated after inoculation of mice with tissue from the coastal shearwater (Puffinus puffinus). While it is not certain whether the virus was actually from the shearwater or from the mice, recent experiments have shown that bovine coronavirus (a Group 2 coronavirus) can infect and also cause enteric disease in turkeys. Experiments with some Group 1 coronaviruses (all from mammals, to date) have shown that they are not limited to replicating or causing disease in a single host. SARS-coronavirus has a wide host range. Clearly there is the potential for the emergence of new coronavirus diseases in domestic birds, from both avian and mammalian sources. Modest sequence conservation within gene 1 has enabled the design of oligonucleotide primers for use in diagnostic reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reactions, which will be useful for the detection of new coronaviruses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Wild / virology
  • Bird Diseases / virology*
  • Coronavirus / isolation & purification*
  • Coronavirus Infections / veterinary*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Poultry / virology*