AbstractsBiology & Animal Science

Avian influenza and Newcastle disease viruses in Finland : Genetics, epidemiology and ecology in the natural host, wild waterfowl

by Erika Lindh

Institution: University of Helsinki
Department: Haartman Institute, Virologia; Tutkimus- ja laboratorio-osasto, Elintarviketurvallisuusvirasto Evira
Year: 2015
Keywords: lääketieteellinen
Record ID: 1131286
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/153685


Influenza A virus (IAV) is a significant zoonotic pathogen, with a diverse range of subtypes infecting both humans and birds. NDV is the causative agent of Newcastle Disease, a significant infectious disease of poultry. While wild waterfowl, the natural host, remains apparently healthy during the even frequent infections with these viruses, poultry is susceptible for mild to severe disease. Both viruses have a heavy impact on the poultry industry by causing outbreaks with significant economical losses. Low pathogenic IAV and NDV viruses are efficiently transmitted in host populations and have the ability to mutate and become virulent. The segmented genome of IAV also allows it to reassort during dual infections, giving rise to novel viruses with unpredictable pathogenic properties including the potential to transmit to humans and other mammals. Extensive surveillance studies of IAV and NDV during the past decades have revealed their wide global distribution and host species range. Previous surveillance studies have yielded limited information about avian IAV in Finland and so far, NDV has been the causative agent of varying outbreaks in Finland, for example in poultry, a zoo and domestic pigeons. This project was initiated for surveillance purposes, to gather information about prevalence and subtype/genotype distribution of IAVs and NDVs and to assess the potential presence of highly pathogenic strains in wild waterfowl in Finland. Through annual sampling and screening of wild waterfowl, 875 birds were screened during the years 2006-2010 and 2014. The birds represent mainly young, hunted ducks from local breeding areas. We detected altogether 76 IAVs (in 8.7%) and 39 NDVs (in 5.5%). From most of the samples (75%) the viruses were successfully propagated in embryonated chicken eggs and partially sequenced for phylogenetic and pathogenicity analyses. Importantly, while no highly pathogenic strains were encountered, several of the wild waterfowl derived viruses detected in Finland were phylogenetically closely related to viruses detected during outbreaks in Finland and elsewhere in Europe. These viruses includ IAV subtypes H5N2, H7N3, H9N2 as well as NDVs. An unexpectedly high subtype dominance of H3N8 was recorded each year, counting for over 60% of all the subtyped IAVs. Genetic characterization of these viruses demonstrated high sequence homology, even between temporally separated viruses and suggests local perpetuation of the viruses. The past decades have witnessed an increase in the incidence of IAV outbreaks in poultry in Europe and zoonotic transmission of a growing number of subtypes. Surveillance data of IAV in the natural host is important for designing efficient national policies aiming to control the transmission of IAV to susceptible populations and for risk assessment. Our results also show that the northern breeding sites have implications on a European scale. Influenssa A-virukset (IAV) ovat merkittäviä lintu- ja humaanipatogeenejä. Kannat ovat pääasiassa isäntälajispesifisiä mutta eräät lintujen…