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Vet Pathol. 2003 Jan;40(1):14-24.

Varied pathogenicity of a Hong Kong-origin H5N1 avian influenza virus in four passerine species and budgerigars.

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United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory, 934 College Station Road, Athens, GA 30605, USA.


This investigation assessed the ability of the zoonotic A/chicken/Hong Kong/220/97 (chicken/Hong Kong) (H5N1) highly pathogenic avian influenza virus to infect and cause disease in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus), house sparrows (Passer domesticus), European starlings (Sternus vulgaris), and budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) after intranasal administration. Zebra finches were the most severely affected of the five species, demonstrating anorexia, depression, and 100% mortality within 5 days of inoculation. Gross lesions in this species were absent or only mild. But histologic lesions and the corresponding viral antigen were observed in multiple organs, especially in the nasal cavity, brain, pancreas, spleen, adrenal glands, and ovary. Significant morbidity and mortality also were observed in both house finches and budgerigars. Affected birds of these two species demonstrated anorexia, depression, and neurologic signs and typically were moribund or dead within 2 days of the onset of clinical signs. Gross lesions were mild or absent in house finches and budgerigars. Histologically, the brain and pancreas were the most consistently and severely affected organs in house finches. The brain was the most affected organ in budgerigars. Unlike these three species, house sparrows suffered only mild transient depression, had no mortality, and lacked gross lesions. Viral antigen and microscopic lesions were observed only in the heart and testicle of a minority of birds of this species. Starlings demonstrated neither clinical disease nor mortality and lacked gross and histologic lesions. Viral antigen was not observed in any of the collected tissues from starlings. These results indicate that there is significant variation in the pathogenicity of the chicken/Hong Kong virus for different species of birds, including species within the same order. In addition, neurotropism is a recurrent feature among birds that eventually succumb to infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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