Submitted to: International Grouse Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/20/1996
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: A captive propagation program was started for prairie-chickens in 1991 using wild-caught greater prairie-chickens (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus). Eggs from nests of wild Attwater's prairie-chickens (T. c. attwateri) were collected in 1993 to create a breeding flock of this subspecies. Two adult female, wild-caught greater prairie-chickens were observed in September 1993 to have multiple subcutaneous nodules on the face. These nodules increased in size and number and the two birds were euthanized in August 1994. Neoplastic masses were found in multiple organs of both birds at necropsy. Histopathologic examination revealed pleomorphic lymphoreticular cells suggestive of reticuloendotheliosis. Reticuloendotheliosis virus (REV) was demonstrated in tumor tissue by polymerase chain reaction and virus isolation. The captive flock was screened periodically for evidence of viremia and antibody to REV. Prior to initiation of control efforts, over 75% of greater and Attwater's prairie-chickens in captivity were viremic, but only two developed antibodies. Viremic greater prairie-chickens had higher morbidity and mortality rates than viremic Attwater's, which tended to remain outwardly healthy. Subsequent testing and selective culling of viremic birds has been used to gain control of the disease in the captive flock. To date, no free-ranging Attwater's prairie-chickens have been found to be infected with REV. The presence of this disease in captive Attwater's will have important ramifications in release programs for this subspecies. Testing of free-ranging greater and Attwater's prairie- chickens for REV is recommended prior to translocation.