U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Journal of General Virology (2012), 93, 2575–2583; DOI 10.1099/vir.0.045427-0


Low-pathogenicity avian influenza virus (LPAIV) can lead to epizootics that cause economic losses in poultry or the emergence of human-infectious strains. LPAIVs experience a complex immunity landscape as they are endemic in numerous host species, and many antigenically distinct strains cocirculate. Prevention and control of emergence of detrimental strains requires an understanding of infection/transmission characteristics of the various subtypes in different hosts, including interactions between subtypes. In order to develop analytical frameworks for examining control efficacy, quantification of heterosubtypic immunity interactions is fundamental. However, these data are scarce, especially for wild avian subtypes in natural hosts. Consequently, in this study, three host species (mallards, quail and pheasants) were infected with two LPAIV subtypes isolated from wild birds: H3N8 and H4N6. The recovered hosts were also reinfected with the alternate subtype to measure the effects of heterosubtypic immunity. Oropharyngeal and cloacal swabs were collected and viral RNA load was quantified by real-time RT-PCR. For secondary infections in recovered hosts, peak viral load was up to four orders of magnitude lower and shedding length was up to 4 days shorter. However, both the magnitude and presence of heterosubtypic immunity varied across specific host species/subtype combinations. Using a mathematical model of virus replication, the variation in virus replication dynamics due to host individuals was quantified. It was found that accounting for individual heterogeneity is important for drawing accurate conclusions about treatment effects. These results are relevant for developing epidemiological models to inform control practices and for analysing virus replication data.

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