Antibodies against influenza virus types a and b in Canadian seals

Lena N. Measures*, Ron A.M. Fouchier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Influenza viruses have been reported from marine mammals worldwide, particularly in pinnipeds, and have caused mass mortalities of seals in North America and Europe. Because influenza viruses in marine mammals can be zoonotic, our objective was to examine Canadian phocids for exposure to influenza A and B viruses in order to understand health risks to wild populations as well as to humans who consume or handle these animals. Blood was collected from 394 seals in eastern Canada from 1994 to 2005. Sera were screened for exposure to influenza viruses in three resident species of seals: harbour, Phoca vitulina (n¼66); grey, Halichoerus grypus (n¼82); ringed, Phoca hispida (n¼2); and two migrant species: harp, Pagophilus groenlandica (n¼206) and hooded, Cystophora cristata (n¼38). Included were samples from captive grey (n¼1) and harbour seals (n¼8) at two aquaria. Sera were prescreened using indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and antibodies against influenza A virus were confirmed using a commercial competitive ELISA (IDEXX Europe B.V.). A subset of influenza A virus positive sera was used to determine common virus subtypes recognized by sera using reference strains. All positive sera in the indirect ELISA reacted with influenza A virus subtypes H3, H4, and H10 using a hemagglutination inhibition assay. Sera from harbour, grey, harp, and hooded seals had antibodies against influenza A and influenza B viruses (some cross-reactivity occurred). Overall, 33% (128/385) of wild seals were seropositive to influenza viruses, with the highest seroprevalence in harp (42%) followed by harbour (33%), grey (23%), and hooded (11%) seals. Antibodies were detected in both sexes and most age classes of wild seals. Two of eight captive harbour seals were seropositive to influenza B virus and four had cross-reactions to influenza A and B viruses. This study reports antibodies against influenza A and B viruses in four seal species from the same geographic area in eastern Canada.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)808-819
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Wildlife Diseases
Volume57
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research on ringed seals from Salluit was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) operating grant to L.N.M., and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (FOC) provided further research support to L.N.M. We thank Mike Hammill (FOC) and the Canadian Coast Guard for assistance and helicopter support during field work in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We also thank Salluit hunters for samples from ringed seals. We thank V?ronique Lesage, Jean-Fran?ois Gosselin, France Boily, Yves Morin, Samuel Turgeon, and Pierre Carter for assistance collecting samples, aging seal teeth, processing blood, and verifying field data. We thank Theo Bestebroer for technical assistance. R.A.M.F. was sponsored through a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-National Institutes of Health (NIAID-NIH) contract HHSN266200700010C.

Funding Information:
Research on ringed seals from Salluit was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) operating grant to L.N.M., and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (FOC) provided further research support to L.N.M. We thank Mike Hammill (FOC) and the Canadian Coast Guard for assistance and helicopter support during field work in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We also thank Salluit hunters for samples from ringed seals. We thank Véronique Lesage, Jean-Franc¸ois Gosselin, France Boily, Yves Morin, Samuel Turgeon, and Pierre Carter for assistance collecting samples, aging seal teeth, processing blood, and verifying field data. We thank Theo Beste-broer for technical assistance. R.A.M.F. was sponsored through a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases-National Institutes of Health (NIAID-NIH) contract HHSN266200700010C.

Publisher Copyright:
© Wildlife Disease Association 2021.

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