We report the first occurrence of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus [A(H1N1)pdm09] infection on two epidemiologically linked turkey breeder premises in the United Kingdom during December 2010 and January 2011. Clinically, the birds showed only mild signs of disease, with the major presenting sign being an acute and marked reduction in egg production, leading to the prompt reporting of suspected avian notifiable disease for official investigation. Presence of A(H1N1)pdm09 infection in the United Kingdom turkey breeder flocks was confirmed by detailed laboratory investigations including virus isolation in embryonated specific pathogen-free fowls' eggs, two validated real-time reverse transcription-PCR tests, and nucleotide sequencing of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes. These investigations revealed high nucleotide identity with currently circulating human A(H1N1)pdm09 strains, suggesting that human-to-poultry transmission (reverse zoonosis) was the most likely route of infection. Peak levels of human influenza-like illness community transmission also coincided with the onset of clinical signs in both affected turkey breeder flocks. This case demonstrated the value of the existing passive surveillance framework and associated veterinary and laboratory infrastructure that enables the detection and management of both exotic and new and emerging disease hazards and risks. The case also presents further evidence of the susceptibility of turkeys to infection with influenza A viruses of nonavian origin.

You do not currently have access to this content.