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Immunogenicity of avian influenza H7N9 virus in birds - Identification of viral epitopes recognized by the immune system following vaccination and challenge
by Darrell R. Kapczynski, Ph.D., US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), Exotic & Emerging Avian Viral Diseases
Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Athens, GA
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 from 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM EDT [16:00 - 17:00 CET]
In March of 2013, a H7N9 low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) virus was identified as the cause of severe disease outbreak in humans in China. An avian reservoir was immediately suspected as a likely cause of human infections because the genes of the virus were of avian origin and recent contact with poultry in live bird markets was documented with numerous human cases. Because of the apparent transmission link between poultry and humans, we sought to determine immunity and protection conferred by homologous and heterologous H7 LPAI vaccines in poultry as a mechanism to reduce shedding and transmission potential. For vaccine studies, both homologous H7N9 and heterologous H7 isolates from different countries with sequence homology >80 % were selected for use as vaccine seed strains. Although no overt clinical signs of disease were identified, vaccinated birds were protected from weight losses observed in sham vaccinated birds. Virus shedding was significantly reduced in vaccinated birds compared to sham vaccinated controls. Furthermore, epitope mapping studies using PEPperCHIP® Peptide Microarrays were completed to determine regions of the viral hemagglutinin recognized by antibodies produced in birds following vaccination and challenge. This study provides support that effective vaccination programs in poultry can reduce virus shedding and transmission potential to susceptible hosts and identified amino acid sequences recognized by the avian immune system.