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Antivir Ther. 2011;16(5):775-9. doi: 10.3851/IMP1794.

Reduced airborne transmission of oseltamivir-resistant pandemic A/H1N1 virus in ferrets.

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  • 1CHUQ-CHUL Research Center in Infectious Diseases and Laval University, Québec City, QC, Canada.



The H275Y neuraminidase mutation conferring oseltamivir resistance has been reported in several pandemic A/H1N1 (pH1N1) isolates. We sought to evaluate transmission of this mutant virus through the direct contact and the airborne (aerosol and droplet) routes in the ferret model.


Groups of four ferrets were infected with either wild-type (WT) or oseltamivir-resistant pH1N1 (H275Y) strains. At 24 h following viral infection, a receptive ferret was introduced in the same cage as the infected animal to assess direct contact transmission. For the airborne transmission, naive ferrets were placed in a modified separate cage adjacent to that of their respective index ferret.


The H275Y mutant virus was as efficiently transmitted as the WT strain by direct contact, as 100% (4/4) of contact ferrets in both groups seroconverted and shed virus. Mean peak viral titres were similar in both groups (4 × 10(4) and 2.63 × 10(4) plaque-forming units/ml after WT or H275Y mutant virus transmission, respectively). Peak viral shedding occurred on day 2 post-contact for the WT group and on day 4 post-contact for the H275Y mutant group. By contrast, airborne transmission of the mutant strain was less efficient, as only 25% (1/4) of contact ferrets seroconverted and shed virus, whereas 100% (4/4) of the WT ferrets did. Peak of viral replication was delayed compared to direct contact transmission and occurred on day 4 post-contact.


Transmission of the H275Y pH1N1 mutant strain by the airborne route is somewhat compromised, which may limit its widespread dissemination.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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