Biological factors affecting persistence of avian influenza virus in aquatic environments
Faust, Christina Lynn
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Traditional research on avian influenza (AI) viruses in wild birds has focused on interactions between the viral agent and host; however, understanding the ecology and natural history of AI requires addressing interactions among host, pathogen, and environment. Avian influenza viruses are transmitted within wild aquatic bird populations through an indirect fecal-oral route involving contaminated water. The persistence of AI viruses in water and subsequent transmission to susceptible individuals is thought to play an essential role in the transmission dynamics of avian influenza. Previous studies have shown that the persistence of AI viruses in water is dependent on abiotic environmental factors (pH, temperature, salinity), but no research has been conducted to determine the role of biological factors in the environment on AI persistence. The influence of filter feeding bivalves on the of AI in water was evaluated utilizing the freshwater, filter-feeding Asian clam, Corbicula fluminea. C. fluminea reduced the persistence and infectivity of low pathogenic (LP) and high pathogenic (HP) AI viruses, respectively, over a 48-hr period. The results of this study highlights the role that invertebrate species inhabiting aquatic environments- specifically filter-feeding bivalves- can play in the persistence and transmission of AI viruses.