Kansas State researchers investigate the threat of influenza from amphibians

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Kansas State researchers investigate the threat of influenza from amphibians

Equine flu. Canine flu. Now do we have to worry about the frog flu, too?
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Aug 09, 2016
By dvm360.com staff

Ribbiting news about the zoonotic threat of amphibians. (Photo courtesy of Kansas State University)If you needed another reason to wash your hands after handling a frog other than warding off salmonellosis, researchers at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine have a new set of zoonoses to concern you that could be acquired from our amphibian friends—viral disease.

Yongming Sang, PhD, is leading a project investigating the role of inferons in amphibians and how it might translate to viral transmission to people. The first publication of their work, featured in Nature’s Scientific Reports, discusses intronless interferons in amphibians, all signaling the need to more closely observe these vertebrates.

"Amphibians have a previously unknown complexity within their antimicrobial interferon system, which is highly and differentially responsive to influenza infections,” says Sang in a release from Kansas State. “This suggests the need to study the possible role of wild amphibians as overlooked reservoirs/end hosts for influenza and other zoonotic pathogenic infections."

Amphibians have been known to possibly harbor influenza A virus (IAV). "We tested the susceptibility of frog cells to different subtypes of IAVs isolated from several animal species, including avian H9N2, equine H3N8, human H1N1 and swine H1N2 and H3N2 viruses," Sang says.

The results? Pig isolates were the most infective in amphibian cells, showing a closer relationship between frogs and pigs than pigs and humans. According to the release, Sang says future studies may provide ways to control vectored or zoonotic infections.