Date of this Version
Journal of Virology 87(16) August 2013 p. 9086–9096; doi:10.1128/JVI.00666-13
In June of 2012, an H7N3 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus was identified as the cause of a severe disease outbreak in commercial laying chicken farms in Mexico. The purpose of this study was to characterize the Mexican 2012 H7N3 HPAI virus (A/chicken/Jalisco/CPA1/2012) and determine the protection against the virus conferred by different H7 inactivated vaccines in chickens. Both adult and young chickens intranasally inoculated with the virus became infected and died at between 2 and 4 days postinoculation (p.i.). High virus titers and viral replication in many tissues were demonstrated at 2 days p.i. in infected birds. The virus from Jalisco, Mexico, had high sequence similarity of greater than 97% to the sequences of wild bird viruses from North America in all eight gene segments. The hemagglutinin gene of the virus contained a 24-nucleotide insert at the hemagglutinin cleavage site which had 100% sequence identity to chicken 28S rRNA, suggesting that the insert was the result of nonhomologous recombination with the host genome. For vaccine protection studies, both U.S. H7 low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) viruses and a 2006 Mexican H7 LPAI virus were tested as antigens in experimental oil emulsion vaccines and injected into chickens 3 weeks prior to challenge. All H7 vaccines tested provided ≥90% protection against clinical disease after challenge and decreased the number of birds shedding virus and the titers of virus shed. This study demonstrates the pathological consequences of the infection of chickens with the 2012 Mexican lineage H7N3 HPAI virus and provides support for effective programs of vaccination against this virus in poultry.