This investigation detailed the clinical disease, gross and histologic lesions, and distribution of viral antigen in juvenile laughing gulls (Larus atricilla) intranasally inoculated with either the A/tern/South Africa/61 (H5N3) (tern/SA) influenza virus or the A/chicken/Hong Kong/220/97 (H5N1) (chicken/HK) influenza virus, which are both highly pathogenic for chickens. Neither morbidity nor mortality was observed in gulls inoculated with either virus within the 14-day investigative period. Gross lesions resultant from infection with either virus were only mild, with the tern/SA virus causing decreased lucency of the air sacs (2/6), splenomegaly (2/6), and pancreatic mottling (1/6) and the chicken/HK virus causing only decreased lucency of the air sacs (2/8) and conjunctival edema (2/8). Histologic lesions in the tern/SA-inoculated gulls included a mild to moderate heterophilic to lymphoplasmacytic airsacculitis (6/6), mild to moderate interstitial pneumonia (3/6), and moderate necrotizing pancreatitis and hepatitis at 14 days postinoculation (DPI) (2/6). Immunohistochemical demonstration of viral antigen occurred only in association with lesions in the liver and pancreas. In contrast, viral antigen was not demonstrated in any tissues from the chicken/HK-inoculated gulls, and inflammatory lesions were confined to the air sac (3/8) and lungs (3/8). Both viruses were isolated at low titers (<101.68 mean embryo lethal dose) from oropharyngeal and cloacal swabs up to 7 days postinoculation (DPI), from the lung and kidney of one of two tern/SA-inoculated gulls at 14 DPI, and from the lung of one of two chicken/HK-inoculated gulls at 7 DPI. Antibodies to influenza viruses as determined with the agar gel precipitin test at 14 DPI were detected only in the two tern/SA-inoculated gulls and not in the two chicken/HK-inoculated gulls.
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