Hemorrhagic enteritis (HE), an economically important disease of turkeys is caused by a type II adenovirus. The virus is ubiquitous and is liable to infect most field turkeys. In unprotected turkey flocks, infection with virulent hemorrhagic enteritis virus (HEV) may result in variable mortality and immunodepression. Turkeys younger than 2-4 weeks of age are resistant to clinical HE. This age-related resistance is expressed in the presence or absence of maternal antibodies against HEV. Clinical disease is characterized by HE and splenomegaly. The virus causes intranuclear inclusions in the reticuloendothelial cells. Bursectomy or splenectomy abrogate clinical HE. Field data and laboratory studies indicate that HEV causes immunodepression in the humoral as well as the cellular immune functions of turkeys. The mechanism of immunodepression is not known.
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