Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) is an extremely infectious, systemic viral disease of birds that produces high mortality and morbidity. HPAI was diagnosed in the three dead magpies (Pica pica sericea) submitted to the National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service. At necropsy, the prominent lesions were multifocal or coalescing necrosis of the pancreas with enlargement of the livers and spleens. Microscopically, there were severely necrotizing pancreatitis and lymphocytic meningoencephalitis. Influenza viral antigen was also detected in areas closely associated with histologic lesions. Avian influenza virus was isolated from cecal tonsils and feces of the magpies. The isolated virus was identified as a highly pathogenic H5N1, with hemagglutinin proteolytic cleavage site deduced amino acid sequence of QREKRKKR/GLFGAIAG. To determine the pathogenicity of the isolate, eight 6-wk-old specific-pathogen-free chickens were inoculated intravenously with the virus, and all birds died within 24 hr after inoculation. This is the first report of HPAI in magpies.
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Vol. 41 • No. 3