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Viruses 2018, 10(9), 478; https://doi.org/10.3390/v10090478

White-Tailed Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) Die-Off Due to Infection with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus, Subtype H5N8, in Germany

1
Department of Wildlife Diseases, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, 10315 Berlin, Germany
2
Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, 17493 Greifswald-Insel Riems, Germany
3
Agency for Environment, Nature Conservation, and Geology Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, 18273 Güstrow, Germany
4
Department of Diagnostic Investigation of Epizootics (LALLF), State Office for Agriculture, Food Safety, and Fishery, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, 18059 Rostock, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 July 2018 / Revised: 30 August 2018 / Accepted: 5 September 2018 / Published: 7 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Viruses)
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Abstract

In contrast to previous incursions of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAIV) H5 viruses, H5N8 clade 2.3.4.4b viruses caused numerous cases of lethal infections in white-tailed sea eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) affecting mainly young eagles (younger than five years of age) in Germany during winter 2016/2017. Until April 2017, 17 HPAIV H5N8-positive white-tailed sea eagles had been detected (three found alive and 14 carcasses) by real-time RT-PCR and partial nucleotide sequence analyses. Severe neurological clinical signs were noticed which were corroborated by immunohistopathology revealing mild to moderate, oligo- to multifocal necrotizing virus-induced polioencephalitis. Lethal lead (Pb) concentrations, a main factor of mortality in sea eagles in previous years, could be ruled out by atomic absorption spectrometry. HPAIV H5 clade 2.3.4.4b reportedly is the first highly pathogenic influenza virus known to induce fatal disease in European white-tailed see eagles. This virus strain may become a new health threat to a highly protected species across its distribution range in Eurasia. Positive cloacal swabs suggest that eagles can spread the virus with their faeces. View Full-Text
Keywords: HPAIV H5N8 clade 2.3.4.4b; neurological symptoms; fatal infection; white-tailed sea eagle HPAIV H5N8 clade 2.3.4.4b; neurological symptoms; fatal infection; white-tailed sea eagle
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Krone, O.; Globig, A.; Ulrich, R.; Harder, T.; Schinköthe, J.; Herrmann, C.; Gerst, S.; Conraths, F.J.; Beer, M. White-Tailed Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) Die-Off Due to Infection with Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus, Subtype H5N8, in Germany. Viruses 2018, 10, 478.

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