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Emerg Microbes Infect. 2016 Aug 3;5(8):e81. doi: 10.1038/emi.2016.77.

Prevalence of influenza A virus in live-captured North Atlantic gray seals: a possible wild reservoir.

Author information

1
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
2
Mystic Aquarium, Mystic, CT 06355, USA.
3
Duke University, Beaufort, NC 28516, USA.
4
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.
5
Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 1C2.
6
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.
7
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06268, USA.
8
Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada B2Y 4A2.

Abstract

Influenza A virus (IAV) has been associated with multiple unusual mortality events (UMEs) in North Atlantic pinnipeds, frequently attributed to spillover of virus from wild-bird reservoirs. To determine if endemic infection persists outside of UMEs, we undertook a multiyear investigation of IAV in healthy, live-captured Northwest Atlantic gray seals (Halichoerus grypus). From 2013 to 2015, we sampled 345 pups and 57 adults from Cape Cod, MA, USA and Nova Scotia, Canada consistently detecting IAV infection across all groups. There was an overall viral prevalence of 9.0% (95% confidence interval (CI): 6.4%-12.5%) in weaned pups and 5.3% (CI: 1.2%-14.6%) in adults, with seroprevalences of 19.3% (CI: 15.0%-24.5%) and 50% (CI: 33.7%-66.4%), respectively. Positive sera showed a broad reactivity to diverse influenza subtypes. IAV status did not correlate with measures of animal health nor impact animal movement or foraging. This study demonstrated that Northwest Atlantic gray seals are both permissive to and tolerant of diverse IAV, possibly representing an endemically infected wild reservoir population.

PMID:
27485496
PMCID:
PMC5034098
DOI:
10.1038/emi.2016.77
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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