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1.  Influenza A (H10N7) Virus Causes Respiratory Tract Disease in Harbor Seals and Ferrets 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(7):e0159625.
Avian influenza viruses sporadically cross the species barrier to mammals, including humans, in which they may cause epidemic disease. Recently such an epidemic occurred due to the emergence of avian influenza virus of the subtype H10N7 (Seal/H10N7) in harbor seals (Phoca vitulina). This epidemic caused high mortality in seals along the north-west coast of Europe and represented a potential risk for human health. To characterize the spectrum of lesions and to identify the target cells and viral distribution, findings in 16 harbor seals spontaneously infected with Seal/H10N7 are described. The seals had respiratory tract inflammation extending from the nasal cavity to bronchi associated with intralesional virus antigen in respiratory epithelial cells. Virus infection was restricted to the respiratory tract. The fatal outcome of the viral infection in seals was most likely caused by secondary bacterial infections. To investigate the pathogenic potential of H10N7 infection for humans, we inoculated the seal virus intratracheally into six ferrets and performed pathological and virological analyses at 3 and 7 days post inoculation. These experimentally inoculated ferrets displayed mild clinical signs, virus excretion from the pharynx and respiratory tract inflammation extending from bronchi to alveoli that was associated with virus antigen expression exclusively in the respiratory epithelium. Virus was isolated only from the respiratory tract. In conclusion, Seal/H10N7 infection in naturally infected harbor seals and experimentally infected ferrets shows that respiratory epithelial cells are the permissive cells for viral replication. Fatal outcome in seals was caused by secondary bacterial pneumonia similar to that in fatal human cases during influenza pandemics. Productive infection of ferrets indicates that seal/H10N7 may possess a zoonotic potential. This outbreak of LPAI from wild birds to seals demonstrates the risk of such occasions for mammals and thus humans.
PMCID: PMC4957826  PMID: 27448168
2.  Further Studies on Arcanobacterium phocisimile: a Novel Species of Genus Arcanobacterium 
Journal of veterinary medicine  2014;2014:923592.
Arcanobacterium phocisimile, a newly described species with the type strain A. phocisimile 2698T isolated from a vaginal swab of a harbour seal and four additional A. phocisimile strains also isolated from four harbour seals could reliably be identified by phenotypic properties, by matrix assisted laser desorption ionization time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS), and by sequencing the genomic targets 16S rDNA and 16S-23S rDNA intergenic spacer region and the genes rpoB and gap. The A. phocisimile strains investigated in the present study were isolated together with several other bacterial species indicating that the pathogenic importance of A. phocisimile remains unclear. However, the detection of peptidic spectra by MALDI-TOF MS and the presented phenotypic and genotypic approach might help to identify A. phocisimile in future.
PMCID: PMC4590858  PMID: 26464945
3.  Health status of seabirds and coastal birds found at the German North Sea coast 
Systematic pathological investigations to assess the health status of seabirds and coastal birds in Germany were performed. The investigation was conducted to obtain data on possible causes of decline in seabird and coastal bird populations.
48 individuals of 11 different species of seabirds and coastal birds were collected by the stranding network along the entire German North Sea coast from 1997 to 2008, including mainly waders such as Eurasian oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus) and red knots (Calidris canutus) as well as seabirds such as northern fulmars (Fulmaris glacialis) and common scoters (Melanitta nigra).
For most birds (n = 31) found dead along the shore no obvious cause of death was evident, while 17 individuals were killed by collisions with lighthouses.
Overall, the nutritional status of the investigated birds was very poor, and the body mass in most cases was significantly lower compared to masses of living birds caught during the same periods of the year. This is partly linked to chronic parasitic or bacterial infections in different organs or to septicaemia. In some cases infections with zoonotic tuberculosis caused by Mycobacterium spp. were found. Avian influenza was not found in any of the collected birds.
The presented data contribute to the evaluation of the health status of birds in the German North Sea. Moreover, they present an important tool for the assessment of potential pathogens with an impact on the health status of seabirds and coastal birds.
PMCID: PMC3441360  PMID: 22812640
Seabirds; Coastal birds; Pathology; North Sea; German waters

Results 1-3 (3)