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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


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Title: Susceptibility of turkeys to pandemic H1N1 virus by reproductive tract insemination)

item Pantin-jackwood, Mary
item Wasilenko, Jamie
item Spackman, Erica
item Suarez, David
item Swayne, David

Submitted to: Virology Journal
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/3/2010
Publication Date: 3/2/2010
Publication URL:
Citation: Pantin Jackwood, M.J., Wasilenko, J.L., Spackman, E., Suarez, D.L., Swayne, D.E. 2010. Susceptibility of turkeys to pandemic H1N1 virus by reproductive tract insemination. Virology Journal. 7:27.

Interpretive Summary: Beginning in April 2009, a novel H1N1 influenza virus (pH1N1) has caused acute respiratory disease in humans, first in Mexico and then spreading around the world. Initial experimental studies failed to infect poultry by giving the virus in the respiratory system, but cases of drops in egg production associated with the virus have been reported in turkey hens in Chile, Canada and the USA. In the current study, we produced infection and disease in turkey hens when given the virus in the reproductive tract or rectum, but no disease or infection when given in the respiratory tract. This indicates turkey hens can be infected by direct installation of the virus in reproductive tract or lower digestive tract. Such transmission could have occurred in the field through insemination crews.

Technical Abstract: Beginning in April 2009, cases of acute respiratory disease were reported in humans caused by a novel H1N1 influenza A virus (pH1N1) in Mexico which has since spread globally in the human population and been declared a pandemic. Initial studies using intranasal route of inoculation failed to produce infection in turkeys, chickens and ducks, suggesting the pandemic H1N1 virus had low potential for natural respiratory infections in poultry. However, isolated cases of natural infections with drops in egg production have been reported in turkey breeder hens in Chile, Canada and the USA suggesting a reproductive and not a respiratory route of infection was more plausible. To understand the role of route of inoculation on infectivity and pathogenesis, reproductively active turkey breeder hens were challenged by intranasal (IN), intracloacal (IC) or intrauterine (IU) inoculation with a human Chilean pH1N1 virus. No clinical disease was produced with IN inoculation, but IU and IC inoculation produced transient diarrhea. By 5 days after challenge, the IU turkeys stopped laying eggs, but IC inoculated turkeys laid eggs daily until 9 days and the IN inoculated turkeys laid eggs daily until termination of the study. These data suggest turkeys hens can be infected by inoculation via the reproductive tract or lower digestive tract which could occur in the field through the human-controlled activity of artificial insemination of turkey breeder hens.

Last Modified: 8/24/2016
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