Triple reassortant (TR) H3N2 influenza viruses have been isolated from turkeys in the United States since 2003. These TR H3N2 virus infections have been associated with drastic declines in egg production in breeder turkeys although co-infection with multiple agents could have been responsible for exacerbating the clinical signs. In this study, we experimentally confirmed that TR H3N2 influenza virus alone can cause drastic reduction/complete cessation of egg production and pathology of the reproductive tract in 26-week-old breeder turkeys. We confirmed high levels of virus replication and abundant distribution of avian specific α2,3 sialic acid-galactose receptors in the oviduct of these turkeys. Although 2-6-week-old turkeys are routinely used for pathogenicity and vaccine protection studies, the low levels of viral shedding and asymptomatic infections in this age group often pose difficulty in interpretation of results. Our study shows that breeder turkeys should be used to assess the potential pathogenicity of TR H3N2 viruses and the viral titers and pathology of the oviduct as well as egg production data can be good measures of protection following in vivo challenge in vaccine efficacy studies.
- Breeder turkeys
- Triple reassortants
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases