The European H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) epizootic during 2016-2017 resulted in both wild bird and poultry deaths throughout the EU. This study investigated the potential for indirect infection of naïve birds through contaminated drinking water or feed, to assess potential disease incursion into a high biosecurity commercial floor housed setting.

Three-week-old Ross 308 chickens were exposed to H5N8 A/wigeon/Wales/52833/2016 (H5N8-2016) virus at a high (1 x 106 EID50/ml) or low (1 x 104 EID50/ml) dose, in either drinking water or feed for a 24 hour period. Chickens directly-infected with a high dose of H5N8-2016 (intra-nasal) acted as positive controls. Viral shedding, environmental contamination and clinical signs were monitored for ten days post infection (dpi).

All directly-infected birds shed virus and were humanely terminated at 3 dpi. Immunohistochemical analysis of nasal epithelium and caecal tonsil lymphoid tissue, obtained at post mortem from directly-infected chickens (2 dpi), showed the presence of influenza antigen in both tissues. Only birds exposed to high dose virus in drinking water, shed virus and showed clinical disease presentation (67% mortality). Interestingly low levels of antigen were detected in the nasal epithelium, whereas higher levels were detected in the caecal tonsil.

All surviving chickens from each group, remained uninfected and did not seroconvert. Our findings suggest virus bio availability in different substrates is variable (feed and water) and possible routes of viral contamination leading to disease ingress at poultry premises may have different outcomes including disease presentation.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Most cited this month Most Cited RSS feed

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error