A United States Poultry and Egg (USPE) grant to study turkey reovirus vaccines

Posted: April 4, 2018

Dr. Tamer A. Sharafeldin, a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Penn State Animal Diagnostic Laboratory, Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences since August, 2017 receives a $123,000 grant funding from US poultry and Egg (USPE). The prestigious grant is awarded to Dr. Sharafeldin to conduct vaccination studies on turkey reoviruses. Newly emergent turkey arthritis reoviruses (TARV) have been isolated and characterized by Dr. Sharafeldin and his former team in the University of Minnesota since 2011. These viruses cause significant economic losses in turkey production and the pathogenicity studies conducted by Dr. Sharafeldin showed the unique ability of these viruses to induce lameness in meat type turkeys of 8 – 10 weeks of age and older.

Currently, the disease is controlled by injecting turkey breeders with autogenous killed vaccine. It is assumed that multiple (2-3) killed vaccine injections induce high antibody titer that can be transferred to turkey poults. The maternally derived antibodies can protect turkey poults in the first 1-3 weeks after hatching when they are vulnerable for reovirus infection. The autogenous killed vaccines have not been evaluated for efficacy in turkey breeders and in progeny and the number of killed vaccine injections has not been standardized on scientific basis, Dr. Sharafeldin said. In addition to the evaluation of the currently used killed vaccines, we will develop another vaccine and vaccination plans that could completely or partially replace the killed injectable vaccines, which are very labor intensive and costly to administer, Dr. Sharafeldin added. The poultry faculty group (Drs Dunn, Wallner-Pendleton, Lu and Sharafeldin) in Penn State Animal Diagnostic Laboratory are striving to bring extramural funding to support and to solve the problems of the Pennsylvania poultry producers.