Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Perspectives on influenza evolution and the role of research

  • Heather L. Forrest (a1) and Robert G. Webster (a1) (a2)
Abstract
Abstract

Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory pathogen that continues to evolve and threaten both veterinary and human public health. Influenza A viruses are continually undergoing molecular changes through mutations, reassortment, and, in rare instances, recombination. While they generally cause benign enteric infection in their natural reservoir of wild aquatic birds, they can cause catastrophic and potentially lethal disease outbreaks in humans, domestic poultry, and pigs when they cross the host species barrier. The continuing circulation of highly pathogenic (HP) H5N1 influenza viruses in domestic poultry in parts of Eurasia and the emergence and global spread of pandemic H1N1 2009 are current examples of influenza evolution. The spread of both HP H5N1 and pandemic H1N1 to multiple hosts emphasizes the potential for continued evolution. In this review, we discuss the current understanding of influenza A virus structure and strategies of variation, with a specific focus on the HP H5N1 and pandemic H1N1 influenza viruses. Additionally, we attempt to identify the gaps in our knowledge of H5N1 and pandemic H1N1 influenza viruses. These gaps include (i) an understanding of the molecular determinants of influenza virus and the host that permit efficient transmissibility and pandemic potential, (ii) the urgent need for prospective surveillance in apparently healthy swine, (iii) the molecular determinants of high pathogenicity in poultry, pigs, and people, (iv) the genetic basis of host susceptibility, (v) antigenic variability, (vi) the use of vaccine to control influenza, (vii) the role of wild birds as the reservoir of highly pathogenic avian influenza, (viii) the problems with vaccines, (ix) seasonality, (x) co-infections, and (xi) anti-influenza drug resistance. Our failure to eradicate HP H5N1 globally and to explain why H5N1 does not transmit efficiently in humans while an H1N1 pandemic virus of swine origin spread globally in months are key examples that emphasize the critical need to bridge these knowledge gaps. Future directions in influenza research that will help us resolve each of the above-mentioned knowledge gaps include complete genomic and proteomic analysis of both the virus and the host with the prospect of designing new control strategies and the development of genetically resistant hosts.

Copyright
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. E-mail: robert.webster@stjude.org
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

E Garman and G Laver (2005). The Structure, Function, and Inhibition of Influenza Virus Neuraminidase. In: WB Fischer (ed.) Viral Membrane Proteins: Structure, Function, and Drug Design. New York: Plenum, pp. 247267.

RA Lamb (1989). Genes and proteins of the influenza viruses. In: RM Krug , H Fraenkel-Conrat and RR Wagner (eds) The Influenza Viruses. New York: Plenum Press, pp. 188.

FI Smith and P Palese (1989). Variation in influenza virus genes. In: RM Krug (ed.) The Influenza Viruses. New York: Plenum Press, pp. 319359.

DE Swayne and DR Kapczynski (2008). Vaccines, vaccination, and immunology for avian influenza viruses in poultry. In: DE Swayne (ed.) Avian influenza. Ames: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 407451.

DE Swayne and M Pantin-Jackwood (2008). Pathobiology of avian influenza virus infections in birds and mammals. In: DE Swayne (ed.) Avian Influenza. Ames: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 87122.

HL Yen , Y Guan , M Peiris and RG Webster (2008). H5N1 in Asia. In: HD Klenk , MN Matrosovich and J Stech (eds) Monographs in Virology: Avian Influenza. Switzerland: S. Karger AG, pp. 1126.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Animal Health Research Reviews
  • ISSN: 1466-2523
  • EISSN: 1475-2654
  • URL: /core/journals/animal-health-research-reviews
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 8
Total number of PDF views: 47 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 330 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 26th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.