1Interdepartment of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Graduate School, 2Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases in Animals (CUEIDAs), Research Unit, Departments of 3Veterinary Medicine, 4Veterinary Pathology, and 5Veterinary Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Quail has been proposed to be an intermediate host of influenza A viruses. However, information on the susceptibility and pathogenicity of pandemic H1N1 2009 (pH1N1) and swine influenza viruses in quails is limited. In this study, the pathogenicity, virus shedding, and transmission characteristics of pH1N1, swine H1N1 (swH1N1), and avian H3N2 (dkH3N2) influenza viruses in quails was examined. Three groups of 15 quails were inoculated with each virus and evaluated for clinical signs, virus shedding and transmission, pathological changes, and serological responses. None of the 75 inoculated (n = 45), contact exposed (n = 15), or negative control (n = 15) quails developed any clinical signs. In contrast to the low virus shedding titers observed from the swH1N1-inoculated quails, birds inoculated with dkH3N2 and pH1N1 shed relatively high titers of virus predominantly from the respiratory tract until 5 and 7 DPI, respectively, that were rarely transmitted to the contact quails. Gross and histopathological lesions were observed in the respiratory and intestinal tracts of quail inoculated with either pH1N1 or dkH3N2, indicating that these viruses were more pathogenic than swH1N1. Sero-conversions were detected 7 DPI in two out of five pH1N1-inoculated quails, three out of five quails inoculated with swH1N1, and four out of five swH1N1-infected contact birds. Taken together, this study demonstrated that quails were more susceptible to infection with pH1N1 and dkH3N2 than swH1N1.