Volume 59 (1997) Issue 3 Pages 143-148
Three-day-old, specific-pathogen-free (SPF) chicks were inoculated with the strains of influenza A/whistling swan/Shimane/499/83 (H5N3) via the air sac route. The strains had been passaged through air sacs or air sacs and brains of SPF chicks. Two experiments were undertaken to examine the pathogenicity of these strains and the development of brain lesions based on time-interval changes. In experiment 1, original strain (4e) showed low pathogenicity with mild respiratory signs and zero mortality. Air sac passaged strains (18a and 24a) of 4e demonstrated mortalities of 50% and 67%, respectively, and inoculated chicks showed hemorrhages and necrotic lesions in major organs. Air sac-brain passaged strain (24a5b) of 4e produced 100% mortality and severe nervous signs. Severe circulatory disturbance with multiple foci of necrosis in major organs including the brain was found in chicks inoculated with 24a5b. The 24a5b was analogous to highly pathogenic avian influenza virus in regard to its pathogenicity to chicks. Hence, low pathogenic influenza virus (4e) gradually aggravated its pathogenicity to highly pathogenic virus (24a5b) by air sac and brain passages. In experiment 2, chicks were inoculated with 24a5b, and the earliest histological lesion was the enlargement of the vascular endothelial cells at 18 hr post-inoculation (PI) followed by necrotizing encephalitis at 24 to 48 hr PI. Immunohistological staining revealed avian influenza virus antigen initially in the vascular endothelial cells and then in the astrocytes, neurons and ependyma.