Several species of wild raptors have been found in Eurasia infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) subtype H5N1. Should HPAIV (H5N1) reach North America in migratory birds, species of raptors are at risk not only from environmental exposure, but also from consuming infected birds and carcasses. In this study we used American kestrels as a representative species of a North American raptor to examine the effects of HPAIV (H5N1) infection in terms of dose response, viral shedding, pathology, and survival. Our data showed that kestrels are highly susceptible to HPAIV (H5N1). All birds typically died or were euthanized due to severe neurologic disease within 4-5 days of inoculation and shed significant amounts of virus both orally and cloacally, regardless of dose administered. The most consistent microscopic lesions were necrosis in the brain and pancreas. This is the first experimental study of HPAIV infection in a North American raptor and highlights the potential risks to birds of prey if HPAIV (H5N1) is introduced into North America.
Additional Publication Details
Experimental infection of a North American raptor, American kestrel (Falco sparverius), with highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (H5N1)