Sun H, Li F, Liu Q, Du J, Liu L, Sun H, Li C, Liu. Mink is a highly susceptible host species to circulating human and avian influenza viruses. Emerg Microbes Infect. 2021 Mar 3:1-34
Pandemic influenza, typically caused by reassortment of human and avian influenza viruses, can result in severe or fatal infections in humans. Timely identification of potential pandemic viruses must be a priority in influenza virus surveillance. However, the range of host species responsible for the generation of novel pandemic influenza viruses remain unclear. In this study, we conducted serological surveys for avian and human influenza virus infections in farmed mink and determined the susceptibility of mink to prevailing avian and human virus subtypes. The results showed that farmed mink were commonly infected with human (H3N2 and H1N1/pdm) and avian (H7N9, H5N6, and H9N2) influenza A viruses. Correlational analysis indicated that transmission of human influenza viruses occurred from humans to mink, and that feed source was a probable route of avian influenza virus transmission to farmed mink. Animal experiments showed that mink were susceptible and permissive to circulating avian and human influenza viruses, and that human influenza viruses (H3N2 and H1N1/pdm), but not avian viruses, were capable of aerosol transmission among mink. These results indicate that farmed mink could be highly permissive "mixing vessels" for the reassortment of circulating human and avian influenza viruses. Therefore, to reduce the risk of emergence of novel pandemic viruses, feeding mink with raw poultry by-products should not be permitted, and epidemiological surveillance of influenza viruses in mink farms should be urgently implemented.
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