Pathological alterations in respiratory system during co-infection with low pathogenic avian influenza virus (H9N2) and Escherichia coli in broiler chickens

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Introduction: Despite the advancements in the field, there is a lack of data when it comes to co-infections in poultry. Therefore, this study was designed to address this issue. Material and Methods: Broiler birds were experimentally infected with E. coli (O78) and low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) strain, alone or in combination. The experimental groups were negative control. Results: The infected birds showed most severe clinical signs in E. coli+LPAI group along with a significant decrease in weight and enhanced macroscopic and microscopic pathological lesions. The survival rate was 60%, 84%, and 100% in birds inoculated with E. coli+LPAI, E. coli, and LPAI virus alone, respectively. The results showed that experimental co-infection with E. coli and H9N2 strain of LPAI virus increased the severity of clinical signs, mortality rate, and gross lesions. The HI titre against LPAI virus infection in the co-infected group was significantly higher than the HI titre of LPAI group, which may indicate that E. coli may promote propagation of H9N2 LPAI virus by alteration of immune response. Conclusion: The present study revealed that co-infection with E. coli and H9N2 LPAI virus caused more serious synergistic pathogenic effects and indicates the role of both pathogens as complicating factors in poultry infections.

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