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Domestic canaries (Serinus canaria forma domestica) are susceptible to low pathogenic avian influenza virus infections

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Avian influenza viruses have been isolated from many bird species; however, little is known about the susceptibility of pet birds to low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) viruses. To address this research gap, domestic canaries (Serinus canaria forma domestica) were experimentally infected with H5 and H7 LPAI viruses to determine susceptibility and to evaluate samples for diagnostic purposes. Clinical evidence of infection (e.g. ruffled plumage and apathy) and mortality were noted for the canaries inoculated with chicken-adapted LPAI viruses. Real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RRT-PCR) demonstrated higher viral RNA levels in buccal compared to faecal samples. No clinical signs or mortality were observed in canaries inoculated with LPAI virus originating from wild birds; however, the canaries in this group did have evidence of viral RNA in buccal and faecal samples. Overall, this study showed that domestic canaries are susceptible to LPAI virus infections and that they can shed large amounts of viral RNA, primarily through the respiratory route. Thus, buccal swabs might be better samples than faeces for efficient detection of some LPAI virus infections in these birds. Although canaries have not been identified as a significant reservoir for LPAI viruses, they may be infected by LPAI viruses. Thus, the importance of the control of domestic canaries for detection of LPAI viruses should not be underestimated, especially in the contexts of international commercial exchange and outbreaks.


Canaries are susceptible to infection with H5/H7 LPAI viruses.

Canaries inoculated with LPAI viruses excrete large amounts of viral RNA.

Buccal swabs may be appropriate specimens for AI virus detection in canaries.

The control of canaries for LPAI virus detection should not be overlooked.
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Keywords: Canary; diagnosis; exportation; low pathogenic avian influenza virus; pet bird

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Avian Virology & Immunology, Sciensano, Brussels, Belgium 2: Infectious diseases in Animals, Sciensano, Brussels, Belgium

Publication date: November 2, 2018

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