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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Exotic & Emerging Avian Viral Diseases Research » Research » Research Project #443876

Research Project: “NIAID Centers of Excellence for Influenza Research and Response” (CEIRR)

Location: Exotic & Emerging Avian Viral Diseases Research

Project Number: 6040-32000-081-029-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2023
End Date: Jun 6, 2024

To characterize in poultry species the pathobiology, and genetic characteristics of influenza A viruses that are of public health concern.

Challenge studies will be conducted in different poultry species with influenza A viruses of public health concern to characterize: the susceptibility of the target species to the virus (i.e., virus infectious dose and whether the virus transmits within the species by contact), disease presentation, virus replication in tissues, and virus excretion (quantity and duration), by using established methods. Additionally, molecular analyses of the viruses will be conducted to determine virus evolution and genetic changes associated with increase in virulence and/or adaptation in different poultry species. Full genome sequencing of the viruses will be conducted and additional related relevant viruses included in the analyses to provide epidemiological context. We will also examine the genetic changes that occur after the viruses replicate in different poultry species to determine intra host evolution. As data are collected, further work on virus transmission, evolution and host adaptation using computational modeling will be developed. Specific AIV lineages have been identified for each aim, however priorities may change and target isolates may not be available during the proposed time frame. Therefore, isolates will be prioritized based on a combination of criteria: history of human infections, novel variants with genetic markers of concern, endemic status in poultry including live animal markets (which facilitate virus evolution because of numerous species in close quarters), and the potential to spread by wild birds. Some lineages which are considered to be priorities are shown in Table 1. IAVs that don’t cause disease in poultry are often of the highest concern because the animals appear healthy but can silently expose people to high levels of IAV. When possible, recent and historical isolates from the same lineage will be evaluated so biological changes can be correlated with genetic markers. Because IAVs can easily spread between avian species, viruses from wild birds which are likely to infect poultry or humans may also be considered for evaluation. Importantly, in the event that a novel virus emerges (from mammalian or avian species), SEPRL has the expertise, experience, and facilities to determine if the novel virus can infect, cause disease, and transmit in avian species, and whether poultry can serve as a reservoir species, so the focus can be shifted from IAV to the new virus (e.g., SARS-CoV-2), if needed.