, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 224-230
Date: 26 Jun 2010

The genome sequence of an H11N2 avian influenza virus from a Thick-billed Murre (Uria lomvia) shows marine-specific and regional patterns of relationships to other viruses

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Influenza A viruses infect a range of host species, including various mammals and more than 100 species of birds. For avian influenza viruses (AIV), prevalence varies between different groups of birds, with waterfowl showing the highest prevalence. We have sequenced the complete genome of A/Thick-billed Murre/Newfoundland/031/2007(H11N2), an AIV identified in the pelagic seabird, Thick-billed Murre (Uria lomvia). This represents the first complete genome sequence of an AIV from this host species, and only the second complete genome sequence from a seabird in the alcid group. All of the virus segments fall within the American avian lineage. Several of the segments show a close relationship to AIV identified in other marine host species, and also a strong geographic association with other AIV sequences from the northeastern coast of North America from recent years. The identification of this virus, and the growing number of AIV identified in seabird species, indicates these marine birds could be underappreciated host species. This has potential consequences for global influenza dynamics because of the seasonal distributions and migratory patterns of this group of birds.