, Volume 140, Issue 7, pp 1163-1172

Perpetuation of influenza A viruses in Alaskan waterfowl reservoirs

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To provide information on the mechanism of perpetuation of influenza viruses among waterfowl reservoirs in nature, virological surveillance was carried out in Alaska during their breeding season in summer from 1991 to 1994. Influenza viruses were isolated mainly from fecal samples of dabbling ducks in their nesting places in central Alaska. The numbers of subtypes of 108 influenza virus isolates were 1 H2N3, 37 H3N8, 55 H4N6, 1 H7N3, 1 H8N2, 1 H10N2, 11 H10N7, and H10N9. Influenza viruses were also isolated from water samples of the lakes where they nest. Even in September of 1994 when the most ducks had left for migration to south, viruses were still isolated from the lake water. Phylogenetic analysis of the NP genes of the representative isolates showed that they belong to the North American lineage of avian influenza viruses, suggesting that the majority of the waterfowls breeding in central Alaska migrate to North America and not to Asia. The present results support the notion that influenza viruses have been maintained in waterfowl population by water-borne transmission and revealed the mechanism of year-by-year perpetuation of the viruses in the lakes where they breed.