Molecular surveillance of gamma coronaviruses in pigeon flocks, Tehran province, 2014-2015


1 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Poultry Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Research and Production of Poultry Viral Vaccines, Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute, Karaj, Iran

4 Iranian Veterinary Organization, Tehran, Iran


BACKGROUND: Coronaviruses have a wide range of host tropism causing respiratory, enteric and central nervous system diseases in pigs, cats, dogs, rodents, cattle, avian species and human. Coronaviruses undergo genetic mutations and recombination at high rates which make them able to infect a wide range of host species from different geographical locations. According to the possible existence of gammacoronavirus in Iranian bird population including pigeons and lack of information about virus prevalence, isolation and molecular characterization of pigeon coronaviruses are needed. OBJECTIVES: The present study was conducted to detect avian coronavirus in flocks of Tehran province.               METHODS: samples were randomly collected from 25 pigeon flocks of Tehran province (250 tracheal swabs and 250 cloacal swabs, 20 specimens from each flock) between 2014-2015. The viral RNA was extracted from swab samples and RT-PCR reaction was run using the QIAGEN one-step RT-PCR Kit with primers targeting nucleocapsid (N) gene and 3’ untranslated region (3’-UTR) of gammacoronavirus. RESULTS: Gammacoronavirus was detected in one out of 25 (4%) flocks. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study approve the presence of  gammacoronaviruses  in pigeon population and help to complete the map of  epidemiology of the virus in Iran. According to the low prevalence rate of coronavirus in pigeons, samples should be collected from pigeons showing respiratory or enteric signs of disease or from pigeons having contact with other birds or those which are housed near poultry farms.


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