Kim EH, Kim YL, Kim SM, Yu KM, Casel MAB, Jang SG,. Pathogenic Assessment of Avian Influenza Viruses in Migratory Birds. Emerg Microbes Infect. 2021 Mar 5:1-40
Several subtypes of avian influenza (AI) viruses have caused human infections in recent years; however, there is a severe knowledge gap regarding the capacity of wild bird viruses to infect mammals. To assess the risk of mammalian infection by AI viruses from their natural reservoirs, a panel of isolates from 34 wild birds was examined in animal models. All selected AI virus subtypes were found to predominantly possess Eurasian lineage, although reassortment with North American lineage AI viruses was also noted in some isolates. When used to infect chickens, 20 AI isolates could be recovered from oropharyngeal swabs at 5 days post-infection (dpi) without causing significant morbidity. Similarly, mild to no observable disease was observed in mice infected with these viruses although the majority replicated efficiently in murine lungs. As expected, wild bird AI isolates were found to recognize avian-like receptors, while a few strains also exhibited detectable human-like receptor binding. Selected strains were further tested in ferrets, and 15 out of 20 were found to shed the virus in the upper respiratory tract until 5 dpi. Overall, we demonstrate that a diversity of low-pathogenic AI viruses carried by wild migratory birds have the capacity to infect land-based poultry and mammalian hosts while causing minimal signs of clinical disease. This study reiterates that there is a significant capacity for interspecies transmission of AI viruses harbored by wild aquatic birds. Thus, these viruses pose a significant threat to human health underscoring the need for continued surveillance.
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