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Abstract

A 14-month old female Pekin duck experimentally infected as an embryo with duck hepatitis B virus via the amniotic route has been a chronic carrier of duck hepatitis B virus with very high (P/N) values of DNA polymerase activity since hatching. All the progeny were, on evaluation for congenital infection, found to be duck hepatitis B virus positive by endogenous DNA polymerase reaction and electron microscopy. These offspring remained persistently viremic throughout the study. Maternal transmission therefore bred true to a total of 49 offspring—24 ducklings (<24 hr old) and 25 ducks—studied. Six of these 25 ducks matched for age and sex and bled weekly for 6 weeks exhibited fluctuating plasma levels of DNA polymerase activity. Higher DNA polymerase activity was detected in newly hatched ducklings than in older viremic ducks. This observation was corroborated with the results of electron microscopic examination of thin sections of liver. Duck hepatitis B virus particles, located within vesicles of rough endoplasmic reticulum in the cytoplasm of hepatocytes, were more abundant, and therefore more readily observed, in ducklings than in older ducks.