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Open Access Pathogenesis of highly pathogenic avian influenza A/turkey/Turkey/1/2005 H5N1 in Pekin ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) infected experimentally

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Asian H5N1 (hereafter referred to as panzootic H5N1) highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus has caused large numbers of deaths in both poultry and wild-bird populations. Recent isolates of this virus have been reported to cause disease and death in commercial ducks, which has not been seen with other HPAI viruses. However, little is known about either the dissemination of this H5N1 within the organs or the cause of death in infected ducks. Nineteen 4-week-old Pekin ducks were infected with 106.7 median egg infectious doses of HPAI A/turkey/Turkey/1/05 (H5N1, clade 2.2) in 0.1ml via the intranasal and intraocular routes. Cloacal and oropharyngeal swabs were taken daily before three animals were selected randomly and killed humanely for postmortem examination, when samples of tissues were taken for real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, histopathological examination and immunohistochemistry. Clinical signs were first observed 4 days post infection (d.p.i.) and included depression, reluctance to feed, in-coordination and torticollis resulting in the death of all the birds remaining on 5d.p.i. Higher levels of virus shedding were detected from oropharyngeal swabs than from cloacal swabs. Real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry identified peak levels of virus at 2d.p.i. in several organs. In the spleen, lung, kidney, caecal tonsils, breast muscle and thigh muscle the levels were greatly reduced at 3d.p.i. However, the highest viral loads were detected in the heart and brain from 3d.p.i. and coincided with the appearance of clinical signs and death. Our experimental results demonstrate the systemic spread of this HPAI H5N1 virus in Pekin ducks, and the localization of virus in the brain and heart tissue preceding death.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Addlestone, Surrey, UK 2: Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Addlestone, Surrey, UK,Poultry Research Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, Shriaz University, Shiraz, Iran

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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