There is increasing evidence that stable lineages of influenza viruses are being established in chickens. H9N2 viruses are established in chickens in Eurasia, and there are increasing reports of H3N2, H6N1, and H6N2 influenza viruses in chickens both in Asia and North America. Surveillance in a live poultry market in Nanchang, South Central China, reveals that influenza viruses were isolated form 1% of fecal samples taken from healthy poultry over the course of 16 months. The highest isolation rates were from chickens (1.3%) and ducks (1.2%), followed by quail (0.8%), then pigeon (0.5%). H3N6, H9N2, H2N9, and H4N6 viruses were isolated from multiple samples, while single isolates of H1N1, H3N2, and H3N3 viruses were made. Representatives of each virus subtype were experimentally inoculated into both quail and chickens. All the viruses replicated in the trachea of quail, but efficient replication in chickens was confined to 25% of the tested isolates. In quail, these viruses were shed primarily by the aerosol route, raising the possibility that quail may be the “route modulator” that changes the route of transmission of influenza viruses from fecal–oral to aerosol transmission. Thus, quail may play an important role in the natural history of influenza viruses. The pros and cons of the use of inactivated and recombinant fowl pox–influenza vaccines to control the spread of avian influenza are also evaluated.
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