First detection of influenza A virus genes from wild raccoons in Japan
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Serological surveys have shown that wild raccoons are exposed to influenza A viruses (IAVs); however, no genetic evidence for this IAV infection has been found. In the present study, we first detected IAV genes in wild raccoons captured during periods other than the wintering season of migratory waterfowl and epidemic season of influenza in Japan. Viral matrix (M) and nucleoprotein (NP) genes were detected by a conventional reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assay from three suckling siblings and one juvenile without any noticeable clinical signs, although the NP gene could not be detected from one sibling. The sequences of M gene fragments detected from the rectal swabs of three suckling siblings were comparable with each other but different from those detected from the nasal swab of the juvenile raccoon caught from a different site. The sequences of NP gene fragments detected from two suckling siblings were also comparable. These genetic evidences suggest that IAV is maintained among raccoon populations in the northern part of Japan. Further genetic and virological investigation of IAV infection in wild raccoons is needed to better understand the IAV ecology in the field.
KeywordsInfluenza A virus Raccoon (Procyon lotor) Wild mammals Gene detection Japan
Influenza A virus
Highly pathogenic avian influenza;
Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction
- M gene
- NP gene
Polymerase basic protein 1
Polymerase basic protein 2
Polymerase acid protein
We would like to thank municipalities for collecting raccoon samples and the Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases Unit members in Obihiro university of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine for their assistance. We would also like to thank Ms. Sachiko Matsuda and Dr. Dao Duy Tung of our unit for their excellent technical assistance. This work was partially supported by KAKENHI (Grant Number 15K07737) of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).
EY and KI conceived and designed the study; EY performed the experiments and sequencing analysis; EY and KI contributed to sample collection. All authors contributed to the writing and revision of the manuscript and approved the final one.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Research involving human and animal participants
This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors. Animals utilized for this research were collected in accordance with animal experiments committee of the Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine.
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