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Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2014;385:137-55. doi: 10.1007/82_2014_387.

Avian influenza virus transmission to mammals.

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Department of Viroscience, Postgraduate School Molecular Medicine, Erasmus Medical Center, P.O. Box 2040, 3000 CA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Influenza A viruses cause yearly epidemics and occasional pandemics. In addition, zoonotic influenza A viruses sporadically infect humans and may cause severe respiratory disease and fatalities. Fortunately, most of these viruses do not have the ability to be efficiently spread among humans via aerosols or respiratory droplets (airborne transmission) and to subsequently cause a pandemic. However, adaptation of these zoonotic viruses to humans by mutation or reassortment with human influenza A viruses may result in airborne transmissible viruses with pandemic potential. Although our knowledge of factors that affect mammalian adaptation and transmissibility of influenza viruses is still limited, we are beginning to understand some of the biological traits that drive airborne transmission of influenza viruses among mammals. Increased understanding of the determinants and mechanisms of airborne transmission may aid in assessing the risks posed by avian influenza viruses to human health, and preparedness for such risks. This chapter summarizes recent discoveries on the genetic and phenotypic traits required for avian influenza viruses to become airborne transmissible between mammals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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