Government Shows Young Turkeys Sick with Virus Linked to Human Illness

A virus that infects young turkeys has been identified by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service. First seen in the southeastern United States poultry industry in the early 1990s, this "astrovirus" is now circulating throughout the United States. The virus, which is also associated with diarrhea outbreaks in humans and other animals, is linked to another widespread production disease in very young turkeys called Poult Enteritis Mortality Syndrome (PEMS). This highly infectious, transmissible disease causes severe diarrhea, stunted growth, high death rates, and lifelong harm to the turkey's immune system, and leaves the birds extremely susceptible to other infections. From USDA ARS News Service, October 11, 2001.