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Zoonoses Public Health. 2017 Nov;64(7):566-571. doi: 10.1111/zph.12370. Epub 2017 Jun 23.

Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza A virus infection associated with respiratory signs in sloth bears (Melursus ursinus).

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Smithsonian National Zoo, Washington, DC, USA.
Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.
National Veterinary Services Laboratories, USDA-APHIS, Ames, IA, USA.
Smithsonian Global Health Department, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Front Royal, VA, USA.


In 2009, a pandemic influenza A virus (pH1N1) spread globally in humans and infected a broad range of captive animals with close human contact. In February 2014, a pH1N1 virus was isolated from a sloth bear with respiratory signs at a US zoo, demonstrating that recurring epidemics present an ongoing threat to animals, including threatened species. This is the first report of pH1N1 infection in sloth bears. To understand the sloth bear virus within the global context of pH1N1, phylogenetic trees were inferred including full-length sequences from available non-human, non-swine hosts, representing four families in the order Carnivora and one order of birds. A combination of phylogenetic and epidemiological evidence strongly suggests the sloth bear was infected with a human-origin pH1N1 virus, supporting the implementation of biosecurity measures to protect human and animal health.


Melursus ursinus ; genomics; influenza A virus; pH1N1; reverse zoonosis; sloth bear

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