University of Nebraska Medical Center

Highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N1) virus in a common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in Florida

Nature Since late 2021, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses of A/goose/Guangdong/1/1996 (H5N1) lineage have caused widespread mortality in wild birds and poultry in the United States. Concomitant with the spread of HPAI viruses in birds are increasing numbers of mammalian infections, including wild and captive mesocarnivores and carnivores with central nervous system involvement. Here we report HPAI, A(H5N1) of clade, in a common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) from Florida, United States. Pathological findings include neuronal necrosis and inflammation of the brain and meninges, and quantitative real time RT-PCR reveal the brain carried the highest viral load. Virus isolated from the brain contains a S246N neuraminidase substitution which leads to reduced inhibition by neuraminidase inhibitor oseltamivir. The increased prevalence of A(H5N1) viruses in atypical avian hosts and its cross-species transmission into mammalian species highlights the public health importance of continued disease surveillance and biosecurity protocols.

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