Experimental infection of ponies with equine influenza (H3N8) viruses by intranasal inoculation or exposure to aerosols



Infection of seronegative Welsh mountain ponies was established by intranasal instillation or exposure to nebulised aerosol of egg grown H3N8 viruses. Pyrexia and coughing were noted following intranasal instillation and high titres of virus were recovered from the nasopharynx. Exposure to aerosol resulted in more severe clinical signs characterised by high temperatures, dyspnoea, anorexia and coughing; lower levels of virus were recovered from the nasopharynx. The severity of clinical signs and the kinetics of virus shedding were dose-related with the minimal infectious dose being 102EID50/ml when ponies were exposed to aerosols produced by nebulisation of 20ml allantoic fluid. Full clinical signs only developed when ponies were exposed to a dose of 106EIU50/ml. It was concluded that exposure to nebulised aerosols of egg grown H3N8 viruses was a more reliable method of inducing clinical influenza than intranasal inoculation and would be more suitable for challenge studies.