The events during the pathogenesis of chicken anemia virus (CAV) infection following intramuscular (IM) and oral inoculation were further elucidated and compared by sequential clinical, pathologic, and morphometric histopathologic evaluations, and by sequential determination of CAV genome concentrations in different organs. Specific-pathogen-free chickens were inoculated by IM or oral routes with the same dose (2 × 106 mean tissue culture infective dose [TCID50]) of CAV isolate 03-4876 at 1 day of age. Weights and hematocrits were obtained at 7, 10, 14, 18, 21, 25, and 28 days postinoculation (DPI). Seven birds from each group were necropsied at 7, 10, 14, and 28 DPI, and samples of thymus, Harderian gland, and cecal tonsils (CT) were obtained for histopathologic examination and CAV genome quantification by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Peak CAV genome concentrations were detected in the thymus at 10 and 14 DPI in the IM and orally infected chickens, respectively. High CAV DNA concentrations were maintained throughout the experimental period until 28 DPI, despite specific seroconversion occurring by 14 DPI in the IM-inoculated chickens. CAV was isolated from both orally and IM-infected chickens 28 DPI. Peak CAV genomes in the thymuses of IM and orally infected chickens coincided with peak lymphocyte depletion in these organs. Lymphocyte repopulation of the thymus occurred by 28 DPI in spite of the presence of the virus in the organs of both infected chicken groups. CAV genomes were detected in the CT, but histopathologic changes were not observed. Compared with the IM route of infection, orally infected chickens did not show apparent signs of illness. Clinical parameters, including reduction of weight gains and hematocrits, and gross and histopathologic changes were delayed and less severe in the orally inoculated chickens. This was concurrent with a delay in accumulation of CAV genomes in the thymus of these chickens.
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Vol. 48 • No. 3