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Title: Role of poultry in the spread of novel H7N9 influenza virus in China

item Pantin Jackwood, Mary
item Miller, Patti
item Spackman, Erica
item Swayne, David
item Susta, Leonardo
item COSTA-HURTADO, MAR - US Department Of Agriculture (USDA)
item Suarez, David

Submitted to: Journal of Virology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/16/2014
Publication Date: 5/1/2014
Publication URL:
Citation: Pantin Jackwood, M.J., Miller, P.J., Spackman, E., Swayne, D.E., Susta, L., Costa-Hurtado, M., Suarez, D.L. 2014. Role of poultry in the spread of novel H7N9 influenza virus in China. Journal of Virology. 88(10):5381-5390. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.03689-13.

Interpretive Summary: An outbreak of a new type of avian influenza, H7N9, was reported in China in early April from several humans. This outbreak has grown to have infected over 100 people in China and is considered a major public health threat. The origins of the virus are not clearly known, although it is likely that poultry in live bird markets play a role. This study looked experimentally at whether chickens, quail, and pigeons could be infected with the virus. Results show that quail and chickens are easily infected with the virus and shed large amounts of virus. However, pigeons are generally resistant to infection and are unlikely carriers of the disease for humans. This study provides important information on the likely carriers of the H7N9 virus and suggests that surveillance be intensified in those species.

Technical Abstract: The outbreak of H7N9 influenza in China has resulted in many human cases with fatalities. The source of infection has not been clearly defined although poultry have been suspected based on virus isolations from live bird markets. Intranasal inoculation of chickens, quail and pigeons with a human H7N9 influenza isolate resulted in infection, with no clinical signs, of all three species. Virus shedding in quail and chickens was much higher and more prolonged than in pigeons. Quail effectively transmitted the virus to direct contacts and pigeons did not. The virus was detected at much higher levels from oropharyngeal swabs, and surveillance sampling should preferentially target this sampling type. The high viral shedding from chickens and quail create a likely source of infection for humans.