The feather pulp, an ideal sample for the early detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses in poultry

A study realized by CReSA's researchers determined feather pulp as a perfect sample to identify cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses in poultry infected.

Avian influenza is considered as one of the main health and economic problems affecting not only the poultry industry but also public health. That is why an early detection of viral infection in birds is crucial to carry out effective outbreak containment. This is especially important in the case of H5 and H7 subtypes of avian influenza virus, which can mutate, after successive passages in animals, into highly pathogenic virus.

CReSA has done a study with chicks two weeks old experimentally infected with H7N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus. In a first phase, blood samples, cloacal and oropharingeal swabs and feather pulps of chickens infected were analysed for virus quantitation. This procedure evaluated the elimination of the virus during an active infection. After the death of chickens due to infection, several samples were analyzed to determine viral persistence at different times post-mortem. The results clearly favoured the feather pulp as the best sample to detect and isolate the viral agent from infected chickens in the early stages of infection, in addition to emphasizing the need for quick carcasses removal during a disease outbreak.

These results have been published in the Journal of General Virology (Busquets N, Abad FX, Alba A, Dolz R, Allepuz A, Rivas R, Ramis A, Darji A, Majó N. Persistence of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (H7N1) in infected chickens: feather as a suitable sample for diagnosis. J Gen Virol. 2010 Sep;91(Pt9):2307-13).

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To contact the author of this article:
Dr. Núria Busquets
Researcher of the CReSA
Phone: +34 935814342
Fax: +34 935814490
Edifici CReSA. Campus UAB
08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona) Spain

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