U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service




Date of this Version



VanDalen, K.K., N.M. Nemeth, N.O. Thomas, N.L. Barrett, J.W. Ellis, H.J. Sullivan, and S.A. Shriner. 2019. Experimental infections of Norway rats with avian-derived low-pathogenic influenza A viruses. Archives of Virology 164(7):1831-1836. doi: 10.1007/s00705-019-04225-w


U.S. government work


Influenza A viruses (IAVs) are a public-health, veterinary, and agricultural concern. Although wild birds are considered the primary reservoir hosts for most IAVs, wild-bird IAV strains are known to spill over into poultry, domestic or wild mammals, and humans. Occasionally, spillover events may result in adaptation or reassortment with other strains. Moreover, some IAV strains found in wild waterfowl mutate into highly pathogenic forms in poultry, causing tremendous economic losses. When domestic animals, wildlife, and humans dwell in close proximity to each other, such as may be the case with agricultural operations, wildlife may represent a potential risk for interspecies pathogen transmission. Understanding the pathways through which IAV strains could spillover from waterfowl reservoirs into humans and domestic animals is important for limiting the spread of IAVs, as well as developing biosecurity and containment procedures in livestock and poultry production. Experimental studies of common wild mammals in the U.S., bank voles (Myodes glareolus) in Europe and Asia, and black rats (Rattus rattus) in Japan have shown varying degrees of IAV susceptibility and/or transmission in these synanthropic species. While Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) are ubiquitous throughout rural and urban areas of the world and have the ability to range between these areas, only limited investigations of this species have been conducted, and their role in IAV transmission has not been clearly established. The main objective of this study was to further characterize IAV infection in Norway rats using IAV strains derived from poultry and wild water birds.