Current limitations in control of viral arthritis and tenosynovitis caused by avian reoviruses in commercial poultry.
Avian reoviruses are the causative agent of viral arthritis/tenosynovitis in chickens and turkeys. Clinical signs of disease include swelling of the hock joints accompanied by lesions in the gastrocnemius and digital flexor tendons causing lameness in addition to hydropericardium. The economic impact is significant as it results in poor weight gain, increased feed conversion ratios and condemnations at the processing plant. Vaccination with both live attenuated and inactivated oil emulsion vaccines have been used successfully for decades to control the disease. Current commercial vaccine strains belong to the same serotype and are antigenically and serologically distinct from circulating variant field viruses isolated from clinical cases of tenosynovitis. Since 2012, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of clinical cases of tenosynovitis in commercial poultry and commercial vaccines are unable to provide adequate levels of protection against disease. Producers have elected to use custom inactivated vaccines in the absence of any commercially available homologous vaccines. Identification and selection of field isolates for use in autogenous vaccines can be difficult especially when multiple reoviruses are co-circulating among flocks. In addition, field data suggests that in some cases the custom vaccines are providing adequate protection against disease but as new genetic variants emerge, new vaccines are needed.