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Avian influenza A virus transmission and the emergence of drug resistance




Achenbach, Jenna Elizabeth, author
Bowen, Richard A., advisor
Landolt, Gabriele A., committee member
Avery, Anne C., committee member
Frye, Melinda A., committee member

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As avian influenza A viruses (AIV) continue to circulate worldwide both naturally, within the reservoir host of wild waterfowl, and cross species barriers, eventually establishing itself in new host species, it is imperative to study the natural reservoir in respect to virus change and transmissibility. This dissertation will focus on the transmissibility of a mallard virus from mallards to other wild and domestic species as well as elucidate the possible outcomes of oseltamivir contamination in the environment and its effect on influenza A virus infected mallards. Low pathogenicity (LP) AIVs of the H5N2 and H7N3 subtypes were utilized to evaluate the ability of transmission of a mallard derived virus to other species present in a co-habitation (barnyard) scenario. Other species in contact with the mallards were chickens, blackbirds, rats, and pigeons. Viral replication was assessed directly from ducks in the barnyard with assessment of the other animals in the barnyard through sero-conversion. Additional animals of each species were directly inoculated with these two viruses and assessed for viral replication. The H5N2 virus was transmitted to other ducks and chickens in the barnyard through either direct or environmental contamination, but not to rats or blackbirds. The H7N3 virus was transmitted to other ducks, chickens, pigeons, and rats. Chickens and blackbirds directly inoculated with both virus strains shed significant amount of virus and seroconverted, but rats and pigeons (except for one pigeon) failed to shed virus but did develop antiviral antibodies. Knowing that both mallard viruses can directly transmit without adaptation, show the mallard to be a good model to further evaluate the outcome of oseltamivir contamination in the environment and its effect on AIV infected mallards. The environment has been shown to be contaminated with significant amounts of oseltamivir carboxylate (OC) in an area of high drug prescription use. We analyzed the outcomes of AIV in infected mallards when they have access to OC in their drinking water. Two separate LPAIV H5N2 viruses were tested for their ability to mutate under drug pressure. One H5N2 virus did not demonstrate any altered sequence after 7-10 days of drug access and infection. The other H5N2 virus did show mutations in the neuraminidase gene that led to an increase in resistance to oseltamivir caused by a specific mutation at E119V. This resistant virus was further evaluated for its ability to transmit between infected and naïve mallards. While the resistant virus did transmit duck to duck, the mutation at position 119 was not detected after challenge or transmission showing instability of this mutation. This could either be a reversion to wild-type or possibly the low level presence of wild-type present in the resistant strain stock that outcompeted with the mutant strain to succeed in the host. This shows, that in these duck experiments, the E119V mutation is not stable in the absence of drug pressure and unlikely to succeed in the host.


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