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Pathogenesis and transmissibility of highly (H7N1) and low (H7N9) pathogenic avian influenza virus infection in red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa)

Kateri Bertran1, Elisa Pérez-Ramírez2, Núria Busquets1, Roser Dolz1, Antonio Ramis3, Ayub Darji1, Francesc Xavier Abad1, Rosa Valle1, Aida Chaves1, Júlia Vergara-Alert1, Marta Barral4, Ursula Höfle2 and Natàlia Majó13*

Author Affiliations

1 Centre de Recerca en Sanitat Animal (CReSA), UAB-IRTA, Campus de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain

2 Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos, IREC (CSIC, UCLM, JCCM), Ronda de Toledo s/n, 13071 Ciudad Real, Spain

3 Departament de Sanitat i Anatomia Animals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain

4 NEIKER-Instituto Vasco de Investigación y Desarrollo Agrario, Departmento de Sanidad Animal, Berreaga 1, 48160 Derio, Bizkaia, Spain

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Veterinary Research 2011, 42:24  doi:10.1186/1297-9716-42-24

Published: 7 February 2011

Abstract

An experimental infection with highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) and low pathogenic avian influenza virus (LPAIV) was carried out in red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa) in order to study clinical signs, gross and microscopic lesions, and viral distribution in tissues and viral shedding. Birds were infected with a HPAIV subtype H7N1 (A/Chicken/Italy/5093/1999) and a LPAIV subtype H7N9 (A/Anas crecca/Spain/1460/2008). Uninoculated birds were included as contacts in both groups. In HPAIV infected birds, the first clinical signs were observed at 3 dpi, and mortality started at 4 dpi, reaching 100% at 8 dpi. The presence of viral antigen in tissues and viral shedding were confirmed by immunohistochemistry and quantitative real time RT-PCR (qRRT-PCR), respectively, in all birds infected with HPAIV. However, neither clinical signs nor histopathological findings were observed in LPAIV infected partridges. In addition, only short-term viral shedding together with seroconversion was detected in some LPAIV inoculated animals. The present study demonstrates that the red-legged partridge is highly susceptible to the H7N1 HPAIV strain, causing severe disease, mortality and abundant viral shedding and thus contributing to the spread of a potential local outbreak of this virus. In contrast, our results concerning H7N9 LPAIV suggest that the red-legged partridge is not a reservoir species for this virus.