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Vet Microbiol. 2004 Mar 5;98(3-4):197-208.

Influenza surveillance in birds in Italian wetlands (1992-1998): is there a host restricted circulation of influenza viruses in sympatric ducks and coots?

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Istituto Nazionale per la Fauna Selvatica "A. Ghigi", 9 via Ca' Fornacetta, 40064 Ozzano Emilia (BO), Italy.


We report the results of a 6-year serological and virological monitoring performed in ducks and coots in Italy, in order to assess the degree of influenza A virus circulation in these birds during wintering. A total of 1039 sera collected from 1992 to 1998 was screened by a double antibody sandwich blocking ELISA (NP-ELISA): seroprevalence of antibodies to influenza A viruses was significantly higher in ducks compared to coots (52.2% vs. 7.1%, respectively). The hemagglutination-inhibition (HI) assay, performed on NP-ELISA positive sera, showed that 16.9% of these duck sera and 33.3% of these coot sera had antibodies to at least one influenza virus HA subtype: ducks showed HI antibodies against most of the HA subtypes, except for the H3, H4, H7, and H12; coots were seropositive to the H3 and H10 subtypes, only. From 1993 to 1998, 22 virus strains were obtained from 802 cloacal swabs, with an overall virus isolation frequency of 2.7%. Viruses belonging to the H1N1 subtype were by far the most commonly circulating strains (18/22) and were isolated mainly from ducks (17/18). The remaining viruses were representative of the H10N8, H5N2 and H3N8 subtypes. Our data indicate some differences between influenza A virus circulation in sympatric ducks and coots and a significant antigenic diversity between some reference strains and viruses recently isolated in Italy.

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