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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41609. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041609. Epub 2012 Jul 25.

The potential of avian H1N1 influenza A viruses to replicate and cause disease in mammalian models.

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  • 1Department of Infectious Diseases, Division of Virology, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, United States of America.


H1N1 viruses in which all gene segments are of avian origin are the most frequent cause of influenza pandemics in humans; therefore, we examined the disease-causing potential of 31 avian H1N1 isolates of American lineage in DBA/2J mice. Thirty of 31 isolates were very virulent, causing respiratory tract infection; 22 of 31 resulted in fecal shedding; and 10 of 31 were as pathogenic as the pandemic 2009 H1N1 viruses. Preliminary studies in BALB/cJ mice and ferrets showed that 1 of 4 isolates tested was more pathogenic than the pandemic 2009 H1N1 viruses in BALB/cJ mice, and 1 of 2 strains transmitted both by direct and respiratory-droplet contact in ferrets. Preliminary studies of other avian subtypes (H2, H3, H4, H6, H10, H12) in DBA/2J mice showed lower pathogenicity than the avian H1N1 viruses. These findings suggest that avian H1N1 influenza viruses are unique among influenza A viruses in their potential to infect mammals.

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