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Experimental Assessment of Houseflies as Vectors in Avian Influenza Subtype H5N1 Transmission in Chickens

Wanaratana, S., Amonsin, A., Chaisingh, A., Panyim, S., Sasipreeyajan, J., Pakpinyo, S.
Avian diseases 2013 v.57 no.2 pp. 266-272
Influenza A virus, Musca domestica, ambient temperature, avian influenza, brain, cloaca, duodenum, immunohistochemistry, laying hens, morbidity, mortality, nucleoproteins, pancreas, pathogenicity, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, titration, viral shedding, virus transmission, viruses
In this study, laboratory-reared houseflies were experimentally exposed to the high pathogenicity avian influenza virus (HPAI) subtype H5N1 virus to evaluate the houseflies as vectors in HPAI-H5N1 virus transmission in chickens. One hundred and fifty houseflies (Musca domestica L.) were equally allocated into three groups. Groups 2 and 3 were exposed to the HPAI-H5N1 virus by allowing the flies to consume food containing the virus for 15 min, while the flies in group 1 were allowed to consume H5N1-free food and would serve as a negative control group. Group 2 flies were euthanatized immediately after H5N1 exposure, while group 3 were held at room temperature for 24 hr and euthanatized. The houseflies in the transmission of the HPAI-H5N1 virus were examined by challenging three groups of housefly homogenates into layer chickens via the oral drop. Morbidity and mortality were observed for 14 days, and virus shedding monitored via oropharyngeal swabs (OS) and cloacal swabs (CS), which were collected daily and determined by real-time reverse transcription-PCR and virus titration. Experimental challenge showed that all the chickens of groups 2 and 3 died within 7 days of inoculation. The OS had higher concentrations of virus than CS. Moreover, the chickens of group 2 had higher concentrations of virus shedding than the chickens of group 3. Immunohistochemistry detected the nucleoprotein of the type A influenza virus in all tissue samples collected, including the trachea, duodenum, pancreas, and brain. In summary, this study demonstrates that houseflies could serve as vectors in HPAI-H5N1 virus transmission in chickens under experimental conditions.