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Avian influenza H9N2 subtype in Poland – characterization of the isolates and evidence of concomitant infections

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In April/May 2013, four outbreaks of avian influenza virus (AIV) infections caused by H9N2 subtype were diagnosed in Poland in fattening turkey flocks exhibiting a drop in feed and water intake, depression, respiratory signs and mortality. The subsequent serological survey carried out on samples collected between June 2012 and September 2013 from 92 poultry flocks detected positive sera in two additional meat turkey flocks located in the same province. The analysis of amino acids in the haemagglutinin and neuraminidase glycoproteins revealed that the detected H9N2 viruses possessed molecular profiles suggestive of low pathogenicity, avian-like SAα2,3 receptor specificity and adaptation to domestic poultry. Phylogenetic studies showed that these H9N2 AIVs grouped within the Eurasian clade of wild bird-origin AIVs and had no relationship with H9N2 AIV circulating in poultry in the Middle East and Far East Asia over the past decade. Experimentally infected SPF chickens with the index-case H9N2 virus remained healthy throughout the experiment. On the other hand, ten 3-week-old commercial turkeys infected via the oculonasal route showed respiratory signs and mortality (2/10 birds). Additional diagnostic tests demonstrated the consistent presence of DNA/RNA of Ornithobacterium rhinotracheale, Bordetella avium and, less frequently, of astro-, rota-, reo-, parvo- and adenoviruses in turkeys both from field outbreaks and laboratory experiment. Although no microbiological culture was performed, we speculate that these secondary pathogens could play a role in the pathogenicity of the current H9N2 infections.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Poultry Diseases, National Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease, National Veterinary Research Institute, Puławy, Poland

Publication date: September 3, 2014

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