Isolation and characterization of influenza A viruses from environmental water at an overwintering site of migratory birds in Japan
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The Izumi plain in Kagoshima prefecture, Japan, is an overwintering site of more than 10,000 cranes. The wet paddy areas are artificially created to provide roosting sites for the cranes every winter. Since wild ducks, known to be a natural reservoir of influenza A viruses, also overwinter in this area, the cranes’ roost water likely serves as a source of influenza A virus infection. To assess this potential risk, we collected 126 water samples from the cranes’ roost in the 2012/2013 winter season for virus isolation. We isolated six influenza viruses of three subtypes (H3N8, H4N6, and H4N8) from the water samples collected in the months of November and December. Genetic analysis of our isolates indicated that these viruses were genetically similar to the low-pathogenic avian influenza viruses circulating among Eurasian waterfowl. These findings suggest the possibility of the cranes becoming infected with the avian influenza viruses that are present in their roost water.
KeywordsInfluenza Avian Influenza Avian Influenza Virus Allantoic Fluid Wild Duck
We thank the Ministry of the Environment, the Prefecture of Kagoshima, and the City of Izumi for sampling the cranes’ roost water. This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Research on Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan; by a Grant-in-Aid for Challenging Exploratory Research from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) (JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 26670227); and by contracted research activity for crane conservation with the City of Izumi, Japan. This research was commissioned by the Kagoshima Crane Conservation Committee.
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