Infectious Tenosynovitis

Synonyms: viral arthritis, tenosynovitis, teno, reovirus enteritis, reovirus septicemia, malabsorption syndrome, helicopter disease

Species affected: turkeys and chickens

Clinical signs: Several serotypes of the reovirus have been identified. Some localize in the joints (tenosynovitis) while others target respiratory or intestinal tissues (septicemic form) (see Table 2). The principal sign of tenosynovitis is lameness with swelling of the tendon sheaths of the shank and area extending above the hock (see Table 2). Affected birds are lame, sit on their hocks, and are reluctant to move. Rupture of the tendon can occur in older roaster birds, resulting in permanent lameness of the affected leg. If more than two joints are affected, the entire carcass will be condemned. Infection can also play a part in broiler stunting, the result of malabsorption syndrome. In chicks, malabsorption due to viral enteritis is called “helicopter disease” because feathering is affected. Wing feathers protrude at various angles. A reovirus is believed to play only a secondary role in this syndrome. In commercial layer flocks, increased mortality may be the first sign of the septicemia form (see Table 2). Egg production will decrease by about two to three times the mortality rate. For example, a mortality rate of 5 percent will be accompanied by a 10–15 percent drop in egg production. In the septicemic form, joint involvement is present but less pronounced. Affected birds become cyanotic (blue) and dehydrated. The tips of the comb turn purplish. The entire comb darkens as the disease progresses (see Table 2).

Transmission: The infection spreads rapidly through broiler flocks, but less rapidly in caged layers. Spread is by respiratory and digestive tract routes. The virus is shed in the feces.

Treatment: There is no satisfactory treatment available. With hens, tetracycline, molasses, and oyster shell therapy is helpful.

Prevention: A vaccine is available for use in endemic areas or on endemic farms.


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