To investigate the pathology of equine influenza, necropsy of 7 horses experimentally infected with equine influenza A virus (EIV) subtype H3N8 was conducted on post-infection days (PID) 2, 3, 7, and 14. Histopathologically, rhinitis or tracheitis including epithelial degeneration or necrosis with loss of ciliated epithelia and a reduction in goblet cell numbers, was observed in the respiratory tracts on PIDs 2 and 3. Epithelial hyperplasia or squamous metaplasia and suppurative bronchopneumonia with proliferation of type II pneumocytes were observed on PIDs 7 and 14. Viral antigen was detected immunohistochemically in the epithelia of the nasal mucosa, trachea, and bronchi on PIDs 2 and 3. The sodA gene of Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus, a suspected cause of suppurative bronchopneumonia, was detected in paraffin-embedded lung tissue sections, but only on PIDs 7 and 14. These findings suggest that damage caused to ciliated epithelia and goblet cells by EIV infection results in secondary bacterial bronchopneumonia due to a reduction in mucociliary clearance.
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