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Avian influenza virus in mammals spreads beyond the site of infection to other organ systems

s. Furthermore, examination of infected tissues revealed cellular damage at sites containing viral proteins, providing an explanation for the increased severity of disease in humans.

These data underscore the potential for influenza virus to spread not only from the respiratory tract but also from the digestive and urinary tracts, greatly increasing the possible routes of mammalian transmission. Systemic disease has long been known to occur in birds, with the fecal-oral route of transmission being most important. However, this is the first demonstration of systemic replication in cats, providing a cautionary tale for humans regarding how influenza is spread and how the disease presents itself.

Rimmelzwaan and colleagues caution that because of the systemic nature of avian influenza, "H5N1 virus infection needs to be included in the differential diagnosis of a broader range of clinical presentations than is currently done." In addition better understanding of the mechanisms of spread, including possible fecal-oral route in humans, "may limit the risk of H5N1 virus developing into a pandemic influenza virus."


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Source:American Journal of Pathology


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