Influenza Virus Infection of Marine Mammals
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Interspecies transmission may play a key role in the evolution and ecology of influenza A viruses. The importance of marine mammals as hosts or carriers of potential zoonotic pathogens such as highly pathogenic H5 and H7 influenza viruses is not well understood. The fact that influenza viruses are some of the few zoonotic pathogens known to have caused infection in marine mammals, evidence for direct transmission of influenza A virus H7N7 subtype from seals to man, transmission of pandemic H1N1 influenza viruses to seals and also limited evidence for long-term persistence of influenza B viruses in seal populations without significant genetic change, makes monitoring of influenza viruses in marine mammal populations worth being performed. In addition, such monitoring studies could be a great tool to better understand the ecology of influenza viruses in nature.
Keywordsmarine mammals influenza viruses zoonotic diseases
This review has been shared with the consortium of the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) funded FLURISK project (http://www.efsa.europa.eu/fr/supporting/doc/571e.pdf). The main objective of FLURISK is the development of an epidemiological and virological evidence-based risk assessment framework (RAF) to assess the Influenza A Virus (IAV) strains circulating in the animal population according to their potential to cross the species barrier and cause infections in humans. This work has therefore contributed to the FLURISK task of reviewing the overall circulation of influenza virus in animal populations. The authors thank Timm Harder and Francesca Ellero for editorial advice during the preparation of the manuscript.
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