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Ferrets, Pigs Susceptible to H7N9 Avian Influenza Virus
Chinese and U.S. scientists used virus isolated from a person who died from H7N9 avian influenza infection to determine whether the virus can infect and be transmitted between ferrets. Ferrets are often used as a mammalian model in influenza research, and efficient transmission of influenza virus between ferrets can provide clues as to how well the same process might occur in people. The team found that the virus can infect ferrets and be transmitted to uninfected ferrets both by direct contact and, less efficiently, by air. The researchers also infected pigs with the human-derived H7N9 virus. In natural settings, pigs can act as a virtual mixing bowl to combine avian- and mammalian-specific influenza strains, potentially allowing avian strains to better adapt to humans. All the infected ferrets and pigs showed mild signs of illness, such as sneezing, nasal discharge and lethargy, but none of the infected animals became seriously ill.
Read more: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/news/