Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is a systemic lethal disease of poultry caused by several subtypes of influenza A virus and classified on the basis of serologic reactions to hemagglutinin and neuraminidase surface glycoproteins. In January 2016, a novel subtype of HPAI—H7N8—was diagnosed in a commercial turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) flock in southern Indiana. Clinical signs and history included increased mortality, dyspnea, head tremors, recumbency, and somnolent or unaware birds. Postmortem examination of six recently dead birds showed red-tinged mucous in the choana and trachea and marked pulmonary edema. Histologic lesions in the brain included severe, multifocal lymphohistiocytic meningoencephalitis with foci of malacia, neuronal necrosis, and neuronophagia. All anatomic locations of the brain were affected, although histologic changes in the cerebellum were considered mild. Other histologic lesions included pulmonary congestion and edema, splenic congestion and lymphoid depletion, fibrinoid necrosis of vessels within the spleen, and multifocal pancreatic acinar necrosis. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was weakly positive for influenza A in the brain; IHC was negative in other tissues tested. The clinical and pathologic characteristics of this case matched previously published material concerning HPAI and add to instances of known or suspected mutation of a low pathogenic virus to a highly pathogenic virus.
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Vol. 61 • No. 3