Experimental infection of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses, Clade 2.3.4.4 H5N6 and H5N8, in Mandarin ducks from South Korea.

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Abstract

Outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have been reported worldwide. Wild waterfowl play a major role in the maintenance and transmission of HPAI. Highly pathogenic avian influenza subtype H5N6 and H5N8 viruses simultaneously emerged in South Korea. In this study, the comparative pathogenicity and infectivity of Clade 2.3.4.4 Group B H5N8 and Group C H5N6 viruses were evaluated in Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata). None of the ducks infected with H5N6 or H5N8 viruses showed clinical signs or mortality. Serological assays revealed that the HA antigenicity of H5N8 and H5N6 viruses was similar to each other. Moreover, both the viruses did not replicate after cross-challenging with H5N8 and H5N6 viruses, respectively, as the second infection. Although both the viruses replicated in most of the internal organs of the ducks, viral replication and shedding through cloaca were higher in H5N8-infected ducks than in H5N6-infected ducks. The findings of this study provide preliminary information to help estimate the risks involved in further evolution and dissemination of Clade 2.3.4.4 HPAI viruses among wild birds.

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