Long-Term Protective Effect of Serial Infections with H5N8 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus in Wild Ducks

Valentina Caliendo*, Lonneke Leijten, Marco W. G. van de Bildt, Marjolein J. Poen, Adinda Kok, Theo Bestebroer, Mathilde Richard, Ron A. M. Fouchier, Thijs Kuiken*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAIVs) of the Goose/Guangdong (Gs/Gd) lineage are an emerging threat to wild birds. In the 2016-2017 H5N8 outbreak, unexplained variability was observed in susceptible species, with some reports of infected birds dying in high numbers and other reports of apparently subclinical infections. This experimental study was devised to test the hypothesis that previous infection with a less-virulent HPAIV (i.e., 2014 H5N8) provides long-term immunity against subsequent infection with a more-virulent HPAIV (i.e., 2016 H5N8). Therefore, two species of wild ducks-the more-susceptible tufted duck (Aythya fuligula) and the more-resistant mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)-were serially inoculated, first with 2014 H5N8 and after 9 months with 2016 H5N8. For both species, a control group of birds was first sham inoculated and after 9 months inoculated with 2016 H5N8. Subsequent infection with the more-virulent 2016 H5N8 caused no clinical signs in tufted ducks that had previously been infected with 2014 H5N8 (n = 6) but caused one death in tufted ducks that had been sham inoculated (n = 7). In mallards, 2016 H5N8 infection caused significant body weight loss in previously sham-inoculated birds (n = 8) but not in previously infected birds (n = 7). IMPORTANCE This study showed that ducks infected with a less-virulent HPAIV developed immunity that was protective against a subsequent infection with a more-virulent HPAIV 9 months later. Following 2014 H5N8 infection, the proportion of birds with detectable influenza nucleoprotein antibody declined from 100% (8/8) in tufted ducks and 78% (7/9) in mallards after 1 month to 33% (2/6) in tufted ducks and 29% (2/7) in mallards after 9 months. This finding helps predict the expected impact that an HPAIV outbreak may have on wild bird populations, depending on whether they are immunologically naive or have survived previous infection with HPAIV.

This study showed that ducks infected with a less-virulent HPAIV developed immunity that was protective against a subsequent infection with a more-virulent HPAIV 9 months later. Following 2014 H5N8 infection, the proportion of birds with detectable influenza nucleoprotein antibody declined from 100% (8/8) in tufted ducks and 78% (7/9) in mallards after 1 month to 33% (2/6) in tufted ducks and 29% (2/7) in mallards after 9 months.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0123322
Pages (from-to)e0123322
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Virology
Volume96
Issue number18
Early online date13 Sept 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Peter van Run, Carmen Embregts, Syriam Sooksawasdi, Bri Laksono, Jurre Siegers, and Lineke Begeman for advice and technical assistance. This research was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 grant 727922, “DELTA-FLU.” R.A.M.F., M.R., and M.J.P. were supported via NIAID/NIH contracts HHSN272201400008C and 75N93021C00014.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Caliendo et al.

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