New type of avian flu found in Antarctic penguins

An international team of researchers has identified a previously unknown avian influenza virus in a group of Adelie penguins from Antarctica. The new virus is described in a study published this week in mBio.

Other research groups have previously detected influenza antibodies in Antarctic birds, but until now no one had detected an actual live influenza virus in penguins, said study author Aeron Hurt (pictured), a senior research scientist at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in Melbourne, Australia.

For the study, Hurt collected swabs and blood from Adelie penguins in two locations on the Antarctic Peninsula: Admiralty Bay and Rada Covadonga. Using a laboratory technique called real-time reverse transcription-PCR, the researchers found avian influenza virus (AIV) genetic material in 3 percent of the samples. The researchers were able to culture four viruses, demonstrating that live infectious virus was present.

On further analysis of the samples, the researchers found all viruses were H11N2 influenza viruses that were highly similar to each other. But when the researchers compared the full genome sequences of four of the collected viruses to all available animal and human influenza virus sequences in public databases, “we found that this virus was unlike anything else detected in the world,” explained Hurt. “When we drew phylogenetic trees to show the evolutionary relationships of the virus, all of the genes were highly distinct from contemporary AIVs circulating in other continents in either the Northern or Southern Hemisphere.”

Four of the gene segments were most closely related to North American avian lineage viruses from the 1960s to 1980s. Two genes showed a distant relationship to a large number of South American AIVs from Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Using a molecular clock to incorporate the evolutionary rate of each AIV gene segment, the researchers estimated that the virus has been evolving for the past 49 to 80 years without anyone knowing about it. Whether this evolution has occurred exclusively in Antarctica is currently unknown, Hurt says.

While the virus did not cause illness in the penguins, the study shows that “avian influenza viruses can get down to Antarctica and be maintained in penguin populations,” Hurt says. “It raises a lot of unanswered questions,” including how often AIVs are being introduced into Antarctica, whether it is possible for highly pathogenic AIVs to be transferred there, what animals or ecosystems are maintaining the virus, and whether the viruses are being cryopreserved during the winters.

Related:
Discuss this article in our forum
Environmental Persistence Of Tamiflu Causes Concern
La Ni�a cooking up mutated viruses?
Big Problems From Small Avian Flu Mutations

Source: American Society for Microbiology

, , , ,

Comments are closed.

Club Penguin Card Jitsu Promo Card Water Video Sketch And Water Ninja Unnumbered picture

Club Penguin Card Jitsu Promo Card Water Video Sketch And Water Ninja Unnumbered

$500.00



Qsp Penguin Lot 2 picture

Qsp Penguin Lot 2

$64.00



Hotel delivery available in Japan Penguin Normal Suica Transportation IC card picture

Hotel delivery available in Japan Penguin Normal Suica Transportation IC card

$25.80



Funko POP 63 The Penguin Batman Returns Art Series picture

Funko POP 63 The Penguin Batman Returns Art Series

$10.50



Pocket Penguin Hug, Resin Penguin Mini Cute Special Hug Penguin Gift, Birthday picture

Pocket Penguin Hug, Resin Penguin Mini Cute Special Hug Penguin Gift, Birthday

$4.95



Matchbook Cover - JD Penguin's Liquor picture

Matchbook Cover - JD Penguin's Liquor

$4.01



Summer Update 2024 Pets - Majestic Pony - Pretty Pony Adopt Your Pets -Listing 1 picture

Summer Update 2024 Pets - Majestic Pony - Pretty Pony Adopt Your Pets -Listing 1

$48.00



1998 Hallmark Keepsake Ornament Frosty Friends #19 Penguins NEW in Box picture

1998 Hallmark Keepsake Ornament Frosty Friends #19 Penguins NEW in Box

$15.00



Japanese Bisque Figurine Ceramic Emperor Penguin Hand Painted UCTCI 7.5

Japanese Bisque Figurine Ceramic Emperor Penguin Hand Painted UCTCI 7.5"

$32.99



BUD ICE 9” WOODEN PENGUIN BEER TAP HANDLE- RARE TAP HANDLE picture

BUD ICE 9” WOODEN PENGUIN BEER TAP HANDLE- RARE TAP HANDLE

$274.99



Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes