Influenza A virus (IAV) affects a wide range of species, though waterfowl is regarded the natural host for most IAV subtypes. Avian influenza (AI) viruses replicate in the intestinal tract of birds and are mainly transmitted by the fecal-oral route. Pinnipeds share the same shoreline habitats as many waterfowl species and are therefore potentially exposed to AIV. Outbreaks of AI in seals have been described in North America and Asia but prior to 2014 never in Europe.
In 2014 massive deaths of harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) were reported in Northern Europe. In Denmark, harbor seals were initially found dead on the Danish island Anholt in Kattegat, which is the sea surrounded by Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Between June and August, 152 harbor seals were found dead. Four seals were submitted to the National Veterinary Institute in Dennmark and diagnosed with severe pneumonia. Influenza A virus of the subtype H10N7 was detected in two out of four seals. Subsequently IAV was detected in dead harbor seals at several locations in Denmark. The IAV outbreak appeared to move with time to the west through the Limfjord to the North Sea and further down south along the west coast of Jutland to the Wadden Sea. Outbreaks were subsequently reported from Germany and The Netherlands.
The aim of this study was to characterize the viruses detected at the several locations by molecular and phylogenetic analysis. All viruses were subtyped as H10N7 with genes of avian origin. The HA and NA genes of the viruses were highly similar to H10N7 IAV detected in harbor seals in Sweden in the spring of 2014 and in Germany in the autumn of 2014, suggesting that the same strain of virus had spread from Sweden to Denmark and further on to Germany.
|Conference||3rd International Symposium on Neglected Influenza Viruses|
|Period||15/04/2015 → 17/04/2015|
Abstract for oral presentation by Charlotte K Hjulsager at 3rd International Symposium on Neglected Influenza Viruses 15 - 17 April 2015, Georgia, Athens, US.