Verma AK, Kumar M, Murugkar HV, Nagarajan S, Tosh. Highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) infection in crows through ingestion of infected crow carcasses. Microb Pathog. 2023 Oct;183:106330
The present study was aimed to investigate the role of cannibalism in transmission of H5N1 avian influenza virus to house crows (Corvus splendens). Four crows were intranasally inoculated with 108.0 EID50 (A/crow/India/01CA249/2021) H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus and were observed for 14 days for any overt signs of illness. Two of the infected crows showed signs of wing paralysis, incoordination, and torticollis. For cannibalism experiment, two crows showing clinical signs were euthanized on 14th day post-infection (dpi) and were kept in the isolator and four na?ve healthy crows were introduced along with the euthanized crows. The viscera from the infected carcasses were eaten by all the four crows. Oropharyngeal and cloacal swabs were collected up to 14 days to assess virus excretion. All four crows showed clinical signs viz., dullness, reluctance to move with ruffled feathers on 6th day post cannibalism along with neurological signs including incoordination and paralysis of the wings. All the crows gradually recovered after showing clinical signs and were euthanized on 21st day of observation period. Virus excretion was observed from 3rd to 11th day post cannibalism through both oropharyngeal and cloacal routes with maximum shedding through oropharyngeal route. The virus was isolated from lungs and trachea of one the infected crows at 21st day after euthanasia. All the four crows seroconverted against H5N1 virus infection at 14th day post cannibalism. Our study confirms the transmission of H5N1 virus in crows through cannibalism and highlights how H5N1 virus might circulate in a crow colony once they become infected.
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