Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, MS 4467, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4467, United States.
The first description of avian influenza (AI) dates back to 1878 in northern Italy, when Perroncito [Perroncito E. Epizoozia tifoide nei gallinacei. Annali Accad Agri Torino 1878;21:87-126] described a contagious disease of poultry associated with high mortality. The disease, termed "fowl plague", was initially confused with the acute septicemic form of fowl cholera. However, in 1880, soon after its first description, Rivolta and Delprato [as reported by Stubs EL. Fowl pest, In: Biester HE, Devries L, editors. Diseases of poultry. 1st ed. Ames, IO: Iowa State College Press; 1943. p. 493-502] showed it to be different from fowl cholera, based on clinical and pathological properties, and called it Typhus exudatious gallinarum. In 1901, Centanni and Savunzzi [Centanni E, Savonuzzi E, La peste aviaria I & II, Communicazione fatta all'accademia delle scienze mediche e naturali de Ferrara, 1901] determined that fowl plague was caused by a filterable virus; however, it was not until 1955 that the classical fowl plague virus was shown to be a type A influenza virus based on the presence of type A influenza virus type-specific ribonucleoprotein [Schäfer W. Vergleichender sero-immunologische Untersuchungen über die Viren der Influenza und klassischen Geflügelpest. Z Naturf 1955;10b:81-91]. The term fowl plague was substituted by the more appropriate term highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) at the First International Symposium on Avian Influenza [Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Avian Influenza. Beltsville, MD. 1981, Avian Dis 47 (Special Issue) 2003.] and will be used throughout this review when referring to any previously described fowl plague virus.
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