Duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV) was found in the serum of 1-6% of Pekin ducklings originated from French commercial flocks. The viremia was followed in the serum of 5 ducklings over a span of 3 mth by monitoring the levels of DHBV DNA and the endogenous DNA polymerase (DNAp) activity. The DHBV DNA levels in serum were quantified either by the DNA dot hybridization technique including counting of retaining radioactivity, or by successive dilutions of each serum sample followed by DNA hybridization. The counting of the retained radioactivity, as plotted on a curve and its evolution compared with that of viral DNAp activity. DHBV DNA levels in serum, estimated by both methods paralleled those of the DNAp activity, which peaked at the 4th or 5th week posthatch to decrease and fluctuate thereafter. Occasional discordance between DHBV DNA levels and the endogenous DNAp activity was observed, which could be correlated with the degree of repair of the single stranded gap of serum DHBV DNA. Parallel followup studies comparing quantitative estimations of serum viral DNA and of DNAp activity, as presented here, may provide some clues for the understanding of the mechanisms involved in the establishment of the HEPA DNA virus carrier state. Such comparative studies may also be crucial for optimal monitoring of antiviral drugs in both human clinical trials and animal experimental studies.
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