Avian metapneumovirus (aMPV) is a respiratory virus that infects a range of avian hosts, including chickens and turkeys. Migratory and local wild birds are implicated in aMPV spread among farms, countries, and seasonal outbreaks of the disease. A subtype B aMPV isolate from commercial chicken flocks suffering from respiratory disease was experimentally inoculated oculonasally into 7-week old chickens, young pigeons, and sparrows. Chickens showed minimal tracheal rales, whereas pigeons and sparrows were asymptomatic. Shedding of aMPV was detected by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction on homogenates from nasal turbinates. At 5 days postinfection, 5 of 5 chickens, 2 of 5 pigeons, and 1 of 5 sparrows were positive; at 10 or 15 days, none were positive. At 2 and 5 days, aMPV antigens were localized at the ciliated boarder of respiratory epithelium in nasal cavity and trachea of chickens, as well as to the conjunctival epithelium. Pigeons had detectable viral antigens in only the trachea at 2 and 5 days; sparrow tissues did not show any positive staining. At the end of the experiment, at 21 days postinfection, 14 of 15 inoculated chickens seroconverted against aMPV, but none of the inoculated pigeons or sparrows did. The authors believe that pigeons and sparrows have the ability to transmit the virus between chicken farms, although they do not consider pigeons and sparrows as natural hosts for aMPV, given that they failed to seroconvert. In conclusion, pigeons and sparrows are partially susceptible to aMPV infection, probably acting more as mechanical vectors because infection is only temporary and short-lived.
- avian metapneumovirus