Pekin and Muscovy ducks respond differently to vaccination with a H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) commercial inactivated vaccine

Caran Cagle, Thanh Long To, Tung Nguyen, Jamie Wasilenko, Sean C. Adams, Carol J. Cardona, Erica Spackman, David L. Suarez, Mary J. Pantin-Jackwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Domestic ducks are key intermediates in the transmission of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses, and therefore are included in vaccination programs to control H5N1 HPAI. Although vaccination has proven effective in protecting ducks against disease, different species of domestic ducks appear to respond differently to vaccination, and shedding of the virus may still occur in clinically healthy vaccinated populations. In this study we compared the response to vaccination between two common domestic duck species, Pekin (Anas platyrhynchos domesticus) and Muscovy (Cairina moschata), which were vaccinated with a commercial inactivated vaccine using one of three different schedules in order to elicit protection to H5N1 HPAI before one month of age. Clear differences in responses to vaccination were observed; the Muscovy ducks developed lower viral antibody titers induced by the same vaccination as Pekin ducks and presented with higher morbidity and mortality after challenge with an H5N1 HPAI virus. When comparing the response to infection in non-vaccinated ducks, differences were also observed, with infected Muscovy ducks presenting a lower mean death time and more severe neurological signs than Pekin ducks. However Pekin ducks had significantly higher body temperatures and higher levels of nitric oxide in the blood at 2 days post challenge than Muscovy ducks, indicating possible differences in innate immune responses. Comparison of the expression of innate immune related genes in spleens of the non-vaccinated infected ducks showed differences including significantly higher levels of expression of RIG-I in Pekin ducks and of IL-6 in Muscovy ducks. Both duck species showed an up-regulation of IFNα and MHC-I expression, and a down-regulation of MHC-II. In conclusion, differences in response to infection and vaccination were observed between the two domestic duck species. This information should be taken into account when developing effective vaccination programs for controlling H5N1 HPAI in different species of ducks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6549-6557
Number of pages9
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 2 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Diane Smith and Scott Lee for excellent technical support and also Ronald Graham and Roger Brock for providing care to the animals. This study was supported by a Specific Cooperative Agreement with the Foreign Agriculture Service of the USDA , and the Agriculture Research Service CRIS Project 6612-32000-048 . Mention of trade names or commercial products in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


  • Avian influenza
  • Ducks
  • H5N1
  • Innate immunity
  • Vaccination


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