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Virology. 1996 Dec 15;226(2):338-45.

Kinetics of duck hepatitis B virus infection following low dose virus inoculation: one virus DNA genome is infectious in neonatal ducks.

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Infectious Diseases Laboratories, Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, Adelaide, South Australia.


Using pooled serum from congenitally duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV)-infected ducks as inoculum, we examined the effect of virus dose on the incubation period of infection and on the patterns of spread of virus infection in the liver. The pooled serum inoculum contained 9.5 x 10(9) DHBV genomes per milliliter and had an infectivity titre (ID50) in newly hatched ducks of 1.5 x 10(10) per milliliter with a 95% confidence interval of 3.0 x 10(9) to 6.3 x 10(10) ID50/ml, indicating the equivalence between one DHBV genome and one infectious unit within the limits of the assays. The incubation period of infection was inversely related to the dose of inoculum and the onset of viraemia ranged from Day 6 with the highest dose to Day 14 or 29 with the lowest dose inoculum. To study the spread of virus infection from a low percentage of initially infected cells we inoculated newly hatched ducks intravenously with sufficient DHBV (1.5 x 10(3) ID50) to infect only approximately 0.0001% of total liver cells. DHBV infection first reached detectable levels on Day 4 postinoculation (p.i.) and was detected in approximately 0.035% of hepatocytes, most of which occurred as single cells or pairs of cells, indicating that a number of rounds of infection had occurred with the spread of virus both to adjoining cells, i.e., by cell-to-cell spread, and to cells located in other parts of the liver lobule. Despite some bird-to-bird variation in timing, the percentage of infected hepatocytes increased exponentially with a mean doubling time of 16 hr from Day 4 to Day 14 p.i., by which time replication was seen in > 95% of hepatocytes. This rapid dissemination from a small number of infected hepatocytes suggests that, in neonatal ducks, there are no major delays in virus replication within the liver, that any innate and adaptive defence mechanisms operating during the first 10 to 14 days of infection are insufficient to contain virus spread, and that even a small number of infected hepatocytes produce enough progeny to rapidly infect the remaining hepatocytes.

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