Influenza A virus (IAV) infection is an important cause of respiratory disease in humans. The original reservoirs of IAV are wild waterfowl and shorebirds, where virus infection causes limited, if any, disease. Both in humans and in wild waterbirds, epithelial cells are the main target of infection. However, influenza virus can spread from wild bird species to terrestrial poultry. Here, the virus can evolve into highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). Part of this evolution involves increased viral tropism for endothelial cells. HPAI virus infections not only cause severe disease in chickens and other terrestrial poultry species but can also spread to humans and back to wild bird populations. Here, we review the role of the endothelium in the pathogenesis of influenza virus infection in wild birds, terrestrial poultry and humans with a particular focus on HPAI viruses. We demonstrate that whilst the endothelium is an important target of virus infection in terrestrial poultry and some wild bird species, in humans the endothelium is more important in controlling the local inflammatory milieu. Thus, the endothelium plays an important, but species-specific, role in the pathogenesis of influenza virus infection.
influenza virus; endothelial cells; highly pathogenic avian influenza; zoonotic infection; poultry
We review the molecular and epidemiological characteristics of cetacean morbillivirus (CeMV) and the diagnosis and pathogenesis of associated disease, with six different strains detected in cetaceans worldwide. CeMV has caused epidemics with high mortality in odontocetes in Europe, the USA and Australia. It represents a distinct species within the Morbillivirus genus. Although most CeMV strains are phylogenetically closely related, recent data indicate that morbilliviruses recovered from Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus), from Western Australia, and a Guiana dolphin (Sotalia guianensis), from Brazil, are divergent. The signaling lymphocyte activation molecule (SLAM) cell receptor for CeMV has been characterized in cetaceans. It shares higher amino acid identity with the ruminant SLAM than with the receptors of carnivores or humans, reflecting the evolutionary history of these mammalian taxa. In Delphinidae, three amino acid substitutions may result in a higher affinity for the virus. Infection is diagnosed by histology, immunohistochemistry, virus isolation, RT-PCR, and serology. Classical CeMV-associated lesions include bronchointerstitial pneumonia, encephalitis, syncytia, and lymphoid depletion associated with immunosuppression. Cetaceans that survive the acute disease may develop fatal secondary infections and chronic encephalitis. Endemically infected, gregarious odontocetes probably serve as reservoirs and vectors. Transmission likely occurs through the inhalation of aerosolized virus but mother to fetus transmission was also reported.
cetacean morbillivirus; epidemics; mass stranding; SLAM; phylogeny; pathogenesis; diagnosis; endemic infections
A novel parvovirus was discovered recently in the brain of a harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) with chronic meningo-encephalitis. Phylogenetic analysis of this virus indicated that it belongs to the genus Erythroparvovirus, to which also human parvovirus B19 belongs. In the present study, the prevalence, genetic diversity and clinical relevance of seal parvovirus (SePV) infections was evaluated in both harbor and grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) that lived in Northwestern European coastal waters from 1988 to 2014. To this end, serum and tissue samples collected from seals were tested for the presence of seal parvovirus DNA by real-time PCR and the sequences of the partial NS gene and the complete VP2 gene of positive samples were determined. Seal parvovirus DNA was detected in nine (8%) of the spleen tissues tested and in one (0.5%) of the serum samples tested, including samples collected from seals that died in 1988. Sequence analysis of the partial NS and complete VP2 genes of nine SePV revealed multiple sites with nucleotide substitutions but only one amino acid change in the VP2 gene. Estimated nucleotide substitution rates per year were 2.00×10−4 for the partial NS gene and 1.15×10−4 for the complete VP2 gene. Most samples containing SePV DNA were co-infected with phocine herpesvirus 1 or PDV, so no conclusions could be drawn about the clinical impact of SePV infection alone. The present study is one of the few in which the mutation rates of parvoviruses were evaluated over a period of more than 20 years, especially in a wildlife population, providing additional insights into the genetic diversity of parvoviruses.
We determined the pattern of attachment of the avian-origin H7N9 influenza viruses A/Anhui/1/2013 and A/Shanghai/1/2013 to the respiratory tract in ferrets, macaques, mice, pigs, and guinea pigs and compared it to that in humans. The H7N9 attachment pattern in macaques, mice, and to a lesser extent pigs and guinea pigs resembled that in humans more closely than the attachment pattern in ferrets. This information contributes to our knowledge of the different animal models for influenza.
Historically, highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAIV) rarely resulted in infection or clinical disease in wild birds. However, since 2002, disease and mortality from natural HPAIV H5N1 infection have been observed in wild birds including gulls. We performed an experimental HPAIV H5N1 infection of black-headed gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) to determine their susceptibility to infection and disease from this virus, pattern of viral shedding, clinical signs, pathological changes and viral tissue distribution. We inoculated sixteen black-headed gulls with 1 × 104 median tissue culture infectious dose HPAIV H5N1 (A/turkey/Turkey/1/2005) intratracheally and intraesophageally. Birds were monitored daily until 12 days post inoculation (dpi). Oropharyngeal and cloacal swabs were collected daily to detect viral shedding. Necropsies from birds were performed at 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 12 dpi. Sampling from selected tissues was done for histopathology, immunohistochemical detection of viral antigen, PCR, and viral isolation. Our study shows that all inoculated birds were productively infected, developed systemic disease, and had a high morbidity and mortality rate. Virus was detected mainly in the respiratory tract on the first days after inoculation, and then concentrated more in pancreas and central nervous system from 4 dpi onwards. Birds shed infectious virus until 7 dpi from the pharynx and 6 dpi from the cloaca. We conclude that black-headed gulls are highly susceptible to disease with a high mortality rate and are thus more likely to act as sentinel species for the presence of the virus than as long-distance carriers of the virus to new geographical areas.
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The zoonotic outbreak of H7N9 subtype avian influenza virus that occurred in eastern China in the spring of 2013 resulted in 135 confirmed human cases, 44 of which were lethal. Sequencing of the viral genome revealed a number of molecular signatures associated with virulence or transmission in mammals. We report here that, in the guinea pig model, a human isolate of novel H7N9 influenza virus, A/Anhui/1/2013 (An/13), is highly dissimilar to an H7N1 avian isolate and instead behaves similarly to a human seasonal strain in several respects. An/13 was found to have a low 50% infectious dose, grow to high titers in the upper respiratory tract, and transmit efficiently among cocaged guinea pigs. The pH of fusion of the hemagglutinin (HA) and the binding of virus to fixed guinea pig tissues were also examined. The An/13 HA displayed a relatively elevated pH of fusion characteristic of many avian strains, and An/13 resembled avian viruses in terms of attachment to tissues. One important difference was seen between An/13 and both the H3N2 human and the H7N1 avian viruses: when inoculated intranasally at a high dose, only the An/13 virus led to productive infection of the lower respiratory tract of guinea pigs. In sum, An/13 was found to retain fusion and attachment properties of an avian influenza virus but displayed robust growth and contact transmission in the guinea pig model atypical of avian strains and indicative of mammalian adaptation.
rhabdovirus; viruses; dolphin; fish; marine mammal; genetic relatedness; genome organization; phylogenetic analysis
Epidemiological studies relate influenza infection with vascular diseases like myocardial infarction. The hypothesis that influenza infection has procoagulant effects on humans has been investigated by experimental animal models. However, these studies often made use of animal models only susceptible to adapted influenza viruses (mouse adapted influenza strains) or remained inconclusive. Therefore, we decided to study the influence of infection with human influenza virus isolates on coagulation in the well-established ferret influenza model.
After infection with either a seasonal-, pandemic- or highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI-H5N1) virus strain infected animals showed alterations in hemostasis compared to the control animals. Specifically on day 4 post infection, a four second rise in both PT and aPTT was observed. D-dimer concentrations increased in all 3 influenza groups with the highest concentrations in the pandemic influenza group. Von Willebrand factor activity levels increased early in infection suggesting endothelial cell activation. Mean thrombin-antithrombin complex levels increased in both pandemic and HPAI-H5N1 virus infected ferrets. At tissue level, fibrin staining showed intracapillary fibrin deposition especially in HPAI-H5N1 virus infected ferrets.
This study showed hemostatic alterations both at the circulatory and at the tissue level upon infection with different influenza viruses in an animal model closely mimicking human influenza virus infection. Alterations largely correlated with the severity of the respective influenza virus infections.
Influenza A virus (Human); H3N2 subtype; H1N1 subtype; H5N1 subtype; Consumption coagulopathy
Influenza A and B viruses circulate among humans causing epidemics almost annually. While various hosts for influenza A viruses exist, influenza B viruses have been detected only in humans and seals. However, recurrent infections of seals in Dutch coastal waters with influenza B viruses that are antigenetically distinct from influenza B viruses circulating among humans suggest that influenza B viruses have been introduced into this seal population by another, non-human, host. Harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) are sympatric with seals in these waters and are also occasionally in close contact with humans after stranding and subsequent rehabilitation. In addition, virus attachment studies demonstrated that influenza B viruses can bind to cells of the respiratory tract of these animals. Therefore, we hypothesized that harbour porpoises might be a reservoir of influenza B viruses. In the present study, an unique set of serum samples from 79 harbour porpoises, stranded alive on the Dutch coast between 2003 and 2013, was tested for the presence of antibodies against influenza B viruses by use of the hemagglutination inhibition test and for antibodies against influenza A viruses by use of a competitive influenza A nucleoprotein ELISA. No antibodies were detected against either virus, suggesting that influenza A and B virus infections of harbour porpoises in Dutch coastal waters are not common, which was supported by statistical analysis of the dataset.
We sampled 7,511 black-headed gulls for influenza virus in the Netherlands during 2006–2010 and found that subtypes H13 and H16 caused annual epidemics in fledglings on colony sites. Our findings validate targeted surveillance of wild waterbirds and clarify underlying factors for influenza virus emergence in other species.
influenza A virus; viruses; influenza; avian influenza; Charadriiformes; epidemics; virulence; disease reservoirs; zoonoses; black-headed gulls; the Netherlands
Detection of influenza virus in oropharyngeal swabs collected during wild bird surveillance is assumed to represent respiratory infection, although intestine is the main site of infection. We tested this assumption by histological examination of the respiratory tract of wild Mallards with virus-positive oropharyngeal swabs. Thirty-two of 125 Mallards tested had viral-RNA positive oropharyngeal swabs. The respiratory tracts of four Mallards with the most virus were examined in detail by immunohistochemistry. None had detectable virus antigen in the respiratory tract, suggesting it was not infected. An alternative explanation is that the oropharynx was contaminated with virus through feeding in surface water or through preening.
Using random PCR in combination with next-generation sequencing, a novel parvovirus was detected in the brain of a young harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) with chronic non-suppurative meningo-encephalitis that was rehabilitated at the Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre (SRRC) in the Netherlands. In addition, two novel viruses belonging to the family Anelloviridae were detected in the lungs of this animal. Phylogenetic analysis of the coding sequence of the novel parvovirus, tentatively called Seal parvovirus, indicated that this virus belonged to the genus Erythrovirus, to which human parvovirus B19 also belongs. Although no other seals with similar signs were rehabilitated in SRRC in recent years, a prevalence study of tissues of seals from the same area collected in the period 2008-2012 indicated that the Seal parvovirus has circulated in the harbor seal population at least since 2008. The presence of the Seal parvovirus in the brain was confirmed by real-time PCR and in vitro replication. Using in situ hybridization, we showed for the first time that a parvovirus of the genus Erythrovirus was present in the Virchow-Robin space and in cerebral parenchyma adjacent to the meninges. These findings showed that a parvovirus of the genus Erythrovirus can be involved in central nervous system infection and inflammation, as has also been suspected but not proven for human parvovirus B19 infection.
The clinical symptoms caused by infection with influenza A virus vary widely and depend on the strain causing the infection, the dose and route of inoculation, and the presence of preexisting immunity. In most cases, seasonal influenza A viruses cause relatively mild upper respiratory tract disease, while sometimes patients develop an acute severe pneumonia. Heterosubtypic immunity induced by previous infections with influenza A viruses may dampen the development of clinical symptoms caused by infection with influenza A viruses of another subtype, as is the case during influenza pandemics. Here we show that ferrets acquire protective immunity after infection of the upper respiratory tract with a seasonal influenza A(H3N2) virus against subsequent infection with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus inoculated by the intranasal route. However, protective heterosubtypic immunity was afforded locally, since the prior infection with the A(H3N2) virus did not provide protection against the development of pneumonia induced after intratracheal inoculation with the A(H1N1)pdm09 virus. Interestingly, some of these animals developed more severe disease than that observed in naïve control animals. These findings are of interest in light of the development of so-called universal influenza vaccines that aim at the induction of cross-reactive T cell responses.
Although low pathogenic avian influenza virus (LPAIV) is traditionally considered to have adapted to its wild waterbird host to become avirulent, recent studies have suggested that LPAIV infection might after all have clinical effects. Therefore, I reviewed the literature on LPAIV infections in wild waterbirds. The virulence of LPAIV was assessed in 17 studies on experimental infections and nine studies on natural infections. Reported evidence for virulence were reductions in return rate, feeding rate, body weight, long-range movement and reproductive success, as well as pathological changes in infected organs. However, major caveats in studies of experimental infections were unnatural route of LPAIV inoculation, animal husbandry not simulating natural stressors and low sensitivity of clinical assessment. Major caveats in studies of natural infections were incomplete measurement of LPAIV infection burden, quasi-experimental design and potential misclassification of birds. After taking these caveats into account, the only remaining evidence for virulence was that presence and intensity of LPAIV infection were negatively correlated with body weight. Based on this correlation, together with the demonstrated LPAIV tropism for the intestinal tract, I hypothesize that LPAIV reduces digestive tract function, and suggest how future studies could be directed to test this hypothesis.
digestive tract function; experimental design; influenza virus; trade-off model; virulence; waterbirds
A thorough understanding of virus diversity in wildlife provides epidemiological baseline information about pathogens. In this study, eye swab samples were obtained from semi-domesticated reindeer (Rangifertarandustarandus) in Norway during an outbreak of infectious eye disease, possibly a very early stage of infectious keratoconjunctivitis (IKC). Large scale molecular virus screening, based on host nucleic acid depletion, sequence-independent amplification and next-generation sequencing of partially purified viral nucleic acid, revealed the presence of a new papillomavirus in 2 out of 8 eye swab samples and a new betaherpesvirus in 3 out of 8 eye swab samples collected from animals with clinical signs and not in similar samples in 9 animals without clinical signs. Whether either virus was responsible for causing the clinical signs or in any respect was associated to the disease condition remains to be determined.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is among the most relevant causes of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Research is complicated by a lack of accessible small animal models. The systematic investigation of viruses of small mammals could guide efforts to establish such models, while providing insight into viral evolutionary biology. We have assembled the so-far largest collection of small-mammal samples from around the world, qualified to be screened for bloodborne viruses, including sera and organs from 4,770 rodents (41 species); and sera from 2,939 bats (51 species). Three highly divergent rodent hepacivirus clades were detected in 27 (1.8%) of 1,465 European bank voles (Myodes glareolus) and 10 (1.9%) of 518 South African four-striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio). Bats showed anti-HCV immunoblot reactivities but no virus detection, although the genetic relatedness suggested by the serologic results should have enabled RNA detection using the broadly reactive PCR assays developed for this study. 210 horses and 858 cats and dogs were tested, yielding further horse-associated hepaciviruses but none in dogs or cats. The rodent viruses were equidistant to HCV, exceeding by far the diversity of HCV and the canine/equine hepaciviruses taken together. Five full genomes were sequenced, representing all viral lineages. Salient genome features and distance criteria supported classification of all viruses as hepaciviruses. Quantitative RT-PCR, RNA in-situ hybridisation, and histopathology suggested hepatic tropism with liver inflammation resembling hepatitis C. Recombinant serology for two distinct hepacivirus lineages in 97 bank voles identified seroprevalence rates of 8.3 and 12.4%, respectively. Antibodies in bank vole sera neither cross-reacted with HCV, nor the heterologous bank vole hepacivirus. Co-occurrence of RNA and antibodies was found in 3 of 57 PCR-positive bank vole sera (5.3%). Our data enable new hypotheses regarding HCV evolution and encourage efforts to develop rodent surrogate models for HCV.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is one of the most relevant causes of liver disease and cancer in humans. The lack of a small animal models represents an important hurdle on our way to understanding, treating, and preventing hepatitis C. The investigation of small mammals could identify virus infections similar to hepatitis C in animals that can be kept in laboratories, such as rodents, and can also yield insights into the evolution of those ancestral virus lineages out of which HCV developed. Here, we investigated a worldwide sample of 4,770 rodents, 2,939 bats, 210 horses and 858 cats and dogs for HCV-related viruses. New viruses were discovered in European bank voles (Myodes glareolus) and South African four-striped mice (Rhabdomys pumilio). The disease in bank voles was studied in more detail, suggesting that infection of the liver occurs with similar symptoms to those caused by HCV in humans. These rodents might thus enable the development of new laboratory models of hepatitis C. Moreover, the phylogenetic history of those viruses provides fascinating new ideas regarding the evolution of HCV ancestors.
We explored the attachment of an H16N3 influenza virus to human, mallard, and gull tissues using virus histochemistry applied to tissue microarrays and employing human and mallard viruses as references. Of the viruses tested, the H16N3 gull virus most readily attached to the human respiratory tract and eye. These results underscore the need to assess the potential for gull influenza viruses to replicate in human tissues and further investigate the role of gulls in influenza virus ecology.
influenza B virus; seals; serology; viruses; influenza; Suggested citation for this article: Bodewes R; Morick D; de Mutsert G; Osinga N; Bestebroer T; van der Vliet S; et al. Recurring influenza B virus infections in seals [letter]. Emerg Infect Dis [Internet]. 2013 Mar [date cited]. http://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid1903.120965
In 1988 and 2002, two major phocine distemper virus (PDV) outbreaks occurred in harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) in north-western European coastal waters, causing the death of tens of thousands seals. Here we investigated whether PDV is still circulating among seals of the Dutch coastal waters and whether seals have protective serum-antibodies against PDV. Therefore seal serum samples, collected from 2002 to 2012, were tested for the presence of PDV-neutralizing antibodies. Antibodies were detected in most seals in 2002 and 2003 while after 2003 antibodies were detected only in seals less than two month-old and adult seals that probably had survived the 2002 PDV-epizootic. We estimated the current proportion of seals with antibodies against PDV at 11%. These findings suggest that at present the vast majority of seals are not immune to PDV infection. PDV re-introduction in this area may cause a major epizootic with infection of >80% and mass-mortality of >50% of the population.
phocine distemper virus; seals; serology; epizootic
The One Health paradigm for global health recognizes that most new human infectious diseases will emerge from animal reservoirs. Little consideration has been given to the known and potential zoonotic infectious diseases of small companion animals. Cats and dogs closely share the domestic environment with humans and have the potential to act as sources and sentinels of a wide spectrum of zoonotic infections. This report highlights the lack of a coordinated global surveillance scheme that monitors disease in these species and makes a case for the necessity of developing a strategy to implement such surveillance.
dogs; cats; small companion animals; emerging zoonoses; zoonoses; zoonotic infectious disease; transmission; surveillance; One Health
The route by which highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus spreads systemically, including the central nervous system (CNS), is largely unknown in mammals. Especially, the olfactory route, which could be a route of entry into the CNS, has not been studied in detail. Although the multibasic cleavage site (MBCS) in the hemagglutinin (HA) of HPAI H5N1 viruses is a major determinant of systemic spread in poultry, the association between the MBCS and systemic spread in mammals is less clear. Here we determined the virus distribution of HPAI H5N1 virus in ferrets in time and space—including along the olfactory route—and the role of the MBCS in systemic replication. Intranasal inoculation with wild-type H5N1 virus revealed extensive replication in the olfactory mucosa, from which it spread to the olfactory bulb and the rest of the CNS, including the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Virus spread to the heart, liver, pancreas, and colon was also detected, indicating hematogenous spread. Ferrets inoculated intranasally with H5N1 virus lacking an MBCS demonstrated respiratory tract infection only. In conclusion, HPAI H5N1 virus can spread systemically via two different routes, olfactory and hematogenous, in ferrets. This systemic spread was dependent on the presence of the MBCS in HA.
Influenza virus tissue tropism defines the host cells and tissues that support viral replication and contributes to determining which regions of the respiratory tract are infected in humans. The location of influenza virus infection along the respiratory tract is a key determinant of virus pathogenicity and transmissibility, which are at the basis of influenza burdens in the human population. As the pathogenicity and transmissibility of influenza virus ultimately determine its reproductive fitness at the population level, strong selective pressures will shape influenza virus tissue tropisms that maximize fitness. At present, the relationships between influenza virus tissue tropism within hosts and reproductive fitness at the population level are poorly understood. The selective pressures and constraints that shape tissue tropism and thereby influence the location of influenza virus infection along the respiratory tract are not well characterized. We use mathematical models that link within-host infection dynamics in a spatially-structured human respiratory tract to between-host transmission dynamics, with the aim of characterizing the possible selective pressures on influenza virus tissue tropism. The results indicate that spatial heterogeneities in virus clearance, virus pathogenicity or both, resulting from the unique structure of the respiratory tract, may drive optimal receptor binding affinity–that maximizes influenza virus reproductive fitness at the population level–towards sialic acids with α2,6 linkage to galactose. The expanding cell pool deeper down the respiratory tract, in association with lower clearance rates, may result in optimal infectivity rates–that likewise maximize influenza virus reproductive fitness at the population level–to exhibit a decreasing trend towards deeper regions of the respiratory tract. Lastly, pre-existing immunity may drive influenza virus tissue tropism towards upper regions of the respiratory tract. The proposed framework provides a new template for the cross-scale study of influenza virus evolutionary and epidemiological dynamics in humans.