An H11N9 low-pathogenicity avian influenza virus, A/duck/WA/663/97, was isolated from a sick Mandarin duck kept in an outdoor bird exhibit. Genetic and phenotypic characterization of the virus suggested that it originated from free-flying birds, a concept supported by genetic similarity with waterfowl isolates from the same geographic area and time period. This duck-origin virus had genetic features typical of H11 and N9 viruses, including no neuraminidase stalk deletion, no differences in putative glycosylation sites in either surface protein, and no addition of basic amino acid residues at the hemagglutinin cleavage site compared to published sequences. It replicated in both avian and mammalian cells in vitro, and experimentally challenged chickens developed mild acute upper respiratory lesions but no clinical signs of disease. It elicited immune responses in chickens, resulting in seroconversion in all infected birds, although antibody titers remained low over the experimental period.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project is supported by funds from the Center for Food Animal Health at the University of California, Davis. Drs Li, Xing, Woolcock and Cardona would like to express their heartfelt appreciation to Nichole L. Anchell, Nguyet Dao, and Phuong Dao for their expert technical support.