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      Influenza A Viruses from Wild Birds in Guatemala Belong to the North American Lineage

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          The role wild bird species play in the transmission and ecology of avian influenza virus (AIV) is well established; however, there are significant gaps in our understanding of the worldwide distribution of these viruses, specifically about the prevalence and/or significance of AIV in Central and South America. As part of an assessment of the ecology of AIV in Guatemala, we conducted active surveillance in wild birds on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Cloacal and tracheal swab samples taken from resident and migratory wild birds were collected from February 2007 to January 2010.1913 samples were collected and virus was detected by real time RT-PCR (rRT-PCR) in 28 swab samples from ducks ( Anas discors). Virus isolation was attempted for these positive samples, and 15 isolates were obtained from the migratory duck species Blue-winged teal. The subtypes identified included H7N9, H11N2, H3N8, H5N3, H8N4, and H5N4. Phylogenetic analysis of the viral sequences revealed that AIV isolates are highly similar to viruses from the North American lineage suggesting that bird migration dictates the ecology of these viruses in the Guatemalan bird population.

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          Evolution and ecology of influenza A viruses.

          In this review we examine the hypothesis that aquatic birds are the primordial source of all influenza viruses in other species and study the ecological features that permit the perpetuation of influenza viruses in aquatic avian species. Phylogenetic analysis of the nucleotide sequence of influenza A virus RNA segments coding for the spike proteins (HA, NA, and M2) and the internal proteins (PB2, PB1, PA, NP, M, and NS) from a wide range of hosts, geographical regions, and influenza A virus subtypes support the following conclusions. (i) Two partly overlapping reservoirs of influenza A viruses exist in migrating waterfowl and shorebirds throughout the world. These species harbor influenza viruses of all the known HA and NA subtypes. (ii) Influenza viruses have evolved into a number of host-specific lineages that are exemplified by the NP gene and include equine Prague/56, recent equine strains, classical swine and human strains, H13 gull strains, and all other avian strains. Other genes show similar patterns, but with extensive evidence of genetic reassortment. Geographical as well as host-specific lineages are evident. (iii) All of the influenza A viruses of mammalian sources originated from the avian gene pool, and it is possible that influenza B viruses also arose from the same source. (iv) The different virus lineages are predominantly host specific, but there are periodic exchanges of influenza virus genes or whole viruses between species, giving rise to pandemics of disease in humans, lower animals, and birds. (v) The influenza viruses currently circulating in humans and pigs in North America originated by transmission of all genes from the avian reservoir prior to the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic; some of the genes have subsequently been replaced by others from the influenza gene pool in birds. (vi) The influenza virus gene pool in aquatic birds of the world is probably perpetuated by low-level transmission within that species throughout the year. (vii) There is evidence that most new human pandemic strains and variants have originated in southern China. (viii) There is speculation that pigs may serve as the intermediate host in genetic exchange between influenza viruses in avian and humans, but experimental evidence is lacking. (ix) Once the ecological properties of influenza viruses are understood, it may be possible to interdict the introduction of new influenza viruses into humans.
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            Universal primer set for the full-length amplification of all influenza A viruses.

             E. Hoffmann,  J Stech,  Y Guan (2001)
            To systematically identify and analyze the 15 HA and 9 NA subtypes of influenza A virus, we need reliable, simple methods that not only characterize partial sequences but analyze the entire influenza A genome. We designed primers based on the fact that the 15 and 21 terminal segment specific nucleotides of the genomic viral RNA are conserved between all influenza A viruses and unique for each segment. The primers designed for each segment contain influenza virus specific nucleotides at their 3'-end and non-influenza virus nucleotides at the 5'-end. With this set of primers, we were able to amplify all eight segments of N1, N2, N4, N5, and N8 subtypes. For N3, N6, N7, and N9 subtypes, the segment specific sequences of the neuraminidase genes are different. Therefore, we optimized the primer design to allow the amplification of those neuraminidase genes as well. The resultant primer set is suitable for all influenza A viruses to generate full-length cDNAs, to subtype viruses, to sequence their DNA, and to construct expression plasmids for reverse genetics systems.
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              Global patterns of influenza a virus in wild birds.

              The outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza of the H5N1 subtype in Asia, which has subsequently spread to Russia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, has put increased focus on the role of wild birds in the persistence of influenza viruses. The ecology, epidemiology, genetics, and evolution of pathogens cannot be fully understood without taking into account the ecology of their hosts. Here, we review our current knowledge on global patterns of influenza virus infections in wild birds, discuss these patterns in the context of host ecology and in particular birds' behavior, and identify some important gaps in our current knowledge.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                13 March 2012
                : 7
                : 3
                [1 ]Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Maryland College Park, and Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, College Park, Maryland, United States of America
                [2 ]Laboratorio de Ecología de Arbovirus y Virus Zoonóticos, Centro de Estudios en Salud, Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (CES-UVG), Guatemala City, Guatemala
                [3 ]Fundación Para el Ecodesarrollo y la Conservación (FUNDAECO), Guatemala City, Guatemala
                University of Ottawa, Canada
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: MEM DA JLB DRP. Performed the experiments: ASG MEM DA JLB. Analyzed the data: ASG MLM SMS DRP. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: ASG MEM DRP. Wrote the paper: ASG DRP. Collected field samples: ASG MEM DA JLB MLM SMS.

                González-Reiche et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 11
                Research Article
                Evolutionary Biology
                Infectious Diseases
                Veterinary Science
                Veterinary Diseases
                Zoonotic Diseases



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