Submitted to: American Society for Microbiology Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/21/2007
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The natural host for avian influenza virus (AIV) is in wild birds, including ducks, gulls, and shorebirds, where the virus causes primarily an enteric infection with little disease. However, AIV can infect a wide variety of host species, and with a certain level of adaptation for the aberrant host can cause serious disease. Particular subtypes of the virus, H5 and H7, in particular can mutate in poultry into highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), which causes high morbidity and mortality. Historically, HPAI has remained closely associated with poultry, and typically outbreaks have been contained and eliminated, often at great cost. More recently, the H5N1 Asian HPAI has broken several of the common rules for HPAI. First, the virus has become increasingly widespread with outbreaks in Asia, Africa, and Europe with the virus being endemic in several countries. Secondly, the virus of poultry has spread back into wild birds, and in some cases has resulted in serious mortality in wild birds. It is unclear if the HPAI virus is endemic in wild birds, but wild birds are likely contributing to HPAI viral infection of poultry. The Asian H5N1 also has shown a unique ability to infect a wide range of mammalian species causing severe disease and death in several of them. This has included humans and several cat species. HPAI has emerged as one of the biggest threats to both commercial and backyard poultry. The occurrence of the virus in extremely poor countries has made control difficult. Vaccines may provide some relief from disease, but unless part of comprehensive control effort will unlikely result in eradication of the disease.