Pathogenicity of H5 influenza viruses for ducks
Four H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses and an avirulent reassortant H5N1 virus were tested for their pathogenicity in domestic ducks. A/chicken/Yamaguchi/7/04 (H5N1) (Ck/Yamaguchi/04) isolated from a dead bird during the HPAI outbreak in Japan and A/duck/Yokohama/aq-10/03 (H5N1) (Dk/Yokohama/03) isolated from duck meat at a quarantine inspection for importation from China replicated in multiple organs including the brain of ducks. The ducks infected with Ck/Yamaguchi/04 did not show any clinical signs, while those infected with Dk/Yokohama/03 showed neurological signs. The ducks infected either with A/Hong Kong/483/97 (H5N1) or A/tern/South Africa/61 (H5N3), or with an avirulent H5N1 reassortant, did not show any clinical signs. Virus-specific antibodies were detected in the sera of the ducks infected with each of the five strains tested, indicating that all of the viral strains infected and replicated in the birds. Dk/Yokohama/03 grew in multiple organs more rapidly than did Ck/Yamaguchi/04. Considerable titers of virus were detected in the brain of the ducks infected with Dk/Yokohama/03 and these birds showed neurological signs. The present results demonstrate that the pathogenicity of influenza viruses for ducks does not correlate with that for chickens and that replication of the virus in the brain is critical for ducks to show neurological signs.