Role of European Quail in Transmission of Avian Influenza

SPAIN - CReSA researchers have shown that European quail may have a role in the epidemiology of avian influenza. This is the first experimental infection carried out to investigate the susceptibility of this species to avian influenza virus.
calendar icon 9 August 2013
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Extensive breeding is considered one of the factors contributing to increased outbreaks of avian influenza. In Spain, the European quail (Coturnix c. c oturnix) and Japanese quail (Coturnix c . japonica) currently represent 4.7% of the production system of poultry meat, so the quail could play a role in intensification and the spread of this disease.

CReSA researchers experimented with two European quails to highly pathogenic avian influenza (VIAAP) H7N1/AP and H5N1/AP and a virus with low pathogenicity (VIABP) H7N2/BP. Contact animals were also used to assess viral transmission between birds.

Severe neurological signs and mortality rates of 67% (H7N1/AP) and 92% (H5N1/AP) were observed.

Histopathological findings were observed in both groups infected with the virus with high pathogenicity but quails infected H5N1/AP showed a tissue distribution of viral antigen and an extension of the microscopic lesions larger.

There were no clinical signs or histopathological findings in quails infected the low pathogenic virus. Viral excretion showed consistent and long lasting and effective transmission to contact quail. The drinking water appeared as a possible transmission route and feathers as a possible source of spreading the virus.

This study is the first experimental infection to investigate the susceptibility of the European quail to avian influenza virus. It is the first attempt to assess the dynamics of viral excretion and low and high pathogenic viruses in this species of birds, as well as the possibility of effective transmission between quail.

It is also a comparative study of viral pathogenesis and tissue distribution of two different subtypes of VIAAP (H5 and H7). The overall results show the role it can play in the European quail epidemiology of AI and its alleged responsibility for an outbreak of AI among different species.

This work has been published in: Bertrand K, R Dolz, Busquets N, Gamini V, Vergara-Alert J, Chaves AJ, Ramis A, Abad XF Höfle U, N. Majo Pathobiology and transmission of low and highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses in European quail (Coturnix c. Coturnix). Vet Res. 2013 Mar 28, 44 (1): 23.

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