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Avian Dis. 2007 Sep;51(3):744-9.

Pathogenesis in call ducks inoculated intranasally with H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus and transmission by oral inoculation of infective feathers from an infected call duck.

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National Institute of Animal Health, Kannondai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-0856 Japan.


To evaluate the possibility of virus transmission through feathers of call ducks, we performed two experiments, intranasal infection study and transmission study, using the Japanese H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) A/chicken/Yamaguchi/7/2004 (Ck/Yama/7/04). In Experiment 1, 1-day-old, 2-wk-old, and 4-wk-old birds were inoculated intranasally with Ck/Yama/7/04. Birds in all age groups exhibited necrosis and/or viral antigens in the feather epithelium. Nonpurulent encephalitis and focal necrosis of the pancreas and heart also were common to inoculated birds. In Experiment 2, nine 2-wk-old birds that were orally inoculated with feathers of an infected call duck exhibited the nonpurulent encephalitis, necrosis of the feather epithelium, and focal necrosis of the pancreas and heart, accompanied by viral antigens. These lesions were similar to those in intranasal infection. Some birds were positive for the virus isolation from cloacal swabs and hemagglutination inhibition antibody. The infection was confirmed in seven of nine birds. This study confirmed that the Japanese HPAIV can replicate in the feather epithelium, causing necrosis in call ducks through the natural infection route. It also suggests that feathers of call ducks infected with Ck/Yama/7/04 can be a potential source of infection for unaffected birds in nature.

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