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    ABSTRACT: The study of influenza type A (IA) infections in wild mammals populations is a critical gap in our knowledge of how IA viruses evolve in novel hosts that could be in close contact with avian reservoir species and other wild animals. The aim of this study was to evaluate the susceptibility to infection, the nasal shedding and the transmissibility of the H7N1 and H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses in the bank vole (Myodes glareolus), a wild rodent common throughout Europe and Asia. Two out of 24 H5N1-infected voles displayed evident respiratory distress, while H7N1-infected voles remained asymptomatic. Viable virus was isolated from nasal washes collected from animals infected with both HPAI viruses, and extra-pulmonary infection was confirmed in both experimental groups. Histopathological lesions were evident in the respiratory tract of infected animals, although immunohistochemistry positivity was only detected in lungs and trachea of two H7N1-infected voles. Both HPAI viruses were transmitted by direct contact, and seroconversion was confirmed in 50% and 12.5% of the asymptomatic sentinels in the H7N1 and H5N1 groups, respectively. Interestingly, viable virus was isolated from lungs and nasal washes collected from contact sentinels of both groups. The present study demonstrated that two non-rodent adapted HPAI viruses caused asymptomatic infection in bank voles, which shed high amounts of the viruses and were able to infect contact voles. Further investigations are needed to determine whether bank voles could be involved as silent hosts in the transmission of HPAI viruses to other mammals and domestic poultry.
    Veterinary Research 05/2015; 46(1):51. DOI:10.1186/s13567-015-0184-1 · 3.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background Cottontails (Sylvilagus spp.) are common mammals throughout much of the U.S. and are often found in peridomestic settings, potentially interacting with livestock and poultry operations. If these animals are susceptible to avian influenza virus (AIV) infections and shed the virus in sufficient quantities they may pose a risk for movement of avian influenza viruses between wildlife and domestic animals in certain situations. Methodology/Principal Findings To assess the viral shedding potential of AIV in cottontails, we nasally inoculated fourteen cottontails with a low pathogenic AIV (H4N6). All inoculated cottontails shed relatively large quantities of viral RNA both nasally (≤106.94 PCR EID50 equivalents/mL) and orally (≤105.09 PCR EID50 equivalents/mL). However, oral shedding tended to decline more quickly than did nasal shedding. No animals showed any obvious signs of disease throughout the study. Evidence of a serological response was found in all infected rabbits at 22 days post infection in convalescent sera. Conclusions/Significance To our knowledge, cottontails have not been previously assessed for AIV shedding. However, it was obvious that they shed AIV RNA extensively via the nasal and oral routes. This is significant, as cottontails are widely distributed throughout the U.S. and elsewhere. These mammals are often found in highly peridomestic situations, such as farms, parks, and suburban neighborhoods, often becoming habituated to human activities. Thus, if infected these mammals could easily transport AIVs short distances.
    PLoS ONE 08/2014; 9(8):e102513. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0102513 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis) are susceptible to infection with some influenza A viruses. However, the viral shedding capability of this peri-domestic mammal and its potential role in influenza A virus ecology are largely undetermined. Striped skunks were experimentally infected with a low pathogenic (LP) H4N6 avian influenza virus (AIV) and monitored for 20 days post infection (DPI). All of the skunks exposed to H4N6 AIV shed large quantities of viral RNA, as detected by real-time RT-PCR and confirmed for live virus with virus isolation, from nasal washes and oral swabs (maximum ≤10(6.02) PCR EID50 equivalent/mL and ≤10(5.19) PCR EID50 equivalent/mL, respectively). Some evidence of potential fecal shedding was also noted. Following necropsy on 20 DPI, viral RNA was detected in the nasal turbinates of one individual. All treatment animals yielded evidence of a serological response by 20 DPI. These results indicate that striped skunks have the potential to shed large quantities of viral RNA through the oral and nasal routes following exposure to a LP AIV. Considering the peri-domestic nature of these animals, along with the duration of shedding observed in this species, their presence on poultry and waterfowl operations could influence influenza A virus epidemiology. For example, this species could introduce a virus to a naive poultry flock or act as a trafficking mechanism of AIV to and from an infected poultry flock to naive flocks or wild bird populations.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e70639. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0070639 · 3.53 Impact Factor

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