Concern Over H5N1 Infection in Free-living Mammals


This past week ProMed Mail reported on an outbreak of H5N1 avian influenza among South American coatis (Nasuella olivacea).  Approximately 23 affected animals were detected in a nature reserve in Flores during late April.  According to the report molecular analysis of the virus strain demonstrated mutations in the PB2 gene segment known to facilitate viral replication in mammals.  In past months, species affected with avian influenza include red foxes, racoon dogs, bobcats, mountain lions, skunks, raccoons, bears, otters and mink.  Marine mammals including seals and sea lions have also contracted H5N1 avian influenza.