Veterinary microbiology

Experimental infection with highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza viruses in the Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) and domestic pigeon (Columba livia domestica).

PMID 28619174


Wild birds play a major role in the evolution, maintenance, and dissemination of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAIV). Sub-clinical infection with HPAI in resident wild birds could be a source of dissemination of HPAIV and continuous outbreaks. In this study, the pathogenicity and infectivity of two strains of H5N8 clade virus were evaluated in the Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata) and domestic pigeon (Columba livia domestica). None of the birds experimentally infected with H5N8 viruses showed clinical signs or mortality. The H5N8 viruses efficiently replicated in the virus-inoculated Mandarin ducks and transmitted to co-housed Mandarin ducks. Although relatively high levels of viral shedding were noted in pigeons, viral shedding was not detected in some of the pigeons and the shedding period was relatively short. Furthermore, the infection was not transmitted to co-housed pigeons. Immunohistochemical examination revealed the presence of HPAIV in multiple organs of the infected birds. Histopathological evaluation showed the presence of inflammatory responses primarily in HPAIV-positive organs. Our results indicate that Mandarin ducks and pigeons can be infected with H5N8 HPAIV without exhibiting clinical signs; thus, they may be potential healthy reservoirs of the H5N8 HPAIV.