Experimental challenge and pathology of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 in dunlin (Calidris alpina), an intercontinental migrant shorebird species
Background Shorebirds (Charadriiformes) are considered one of the primary reservoirs of avian influenza. Because these species are highly migratory, there is concern that infected shorebirds may be a mechanism by which highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) H5N1 could be introduced into North America from Asia. Large numbers of dunlin (Calidris alpina) migrate from wintering areas in central and eastern Asia, where HPAIV H5N1 is endemic, across the Bering Sea to breeding areas in Alaska. Low pathogenic avian influenza virus has been previously detected in dunlin, and thus, dunlin represent a potential risk to transport HPAIV to North America. To date no experimental challenge studies have been performed in shorebirds.
Methods Wild dunlin were inoculated intranasally and intrachoanally various doses of HPAIV H5N1. The birds were monitored daily for virus excretion, disease signs, morbidity, and mortality.
Results The infectious dose of HPAIV H5N1 in dunlin was determined to be 101.7 EID50/100 μl and that the lethal dose was 101.83 EID50/100 μl. Clinical signs were consistent with neurotropic disease, and histochemical analyses revealed that infection was systemic with viral antigen and RNA most consistently found in brain tissues. Infected birds excreted relatively large amounts of virus orally (104 EID50) and smaller amounts cloacally.
Conclusions Dunlin are highly susceptible to infection with HPAIV H5N1. They become infected after exposure to relatively small doses of the virus and if they become infected, they are most likely to suffer mortality within 3–5 days. These results have important implications regarding the risks of transport and transmission of HPAIV H5N1 to North America by this species and raises questions for further investigation.
|Experimental challenge and pathology of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 in dunlin (Calidris alpina), an intercontinental migrant shorebird species
|Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses
|Alaska Science Center, National Wildlife Health Center
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