New Influenza Virus Discovered


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Don’t let a Peruvian bat sneeze on you. But if you do, likely you won’t be infected. A brand new influenza virus has been found in Peruvian bats, according to a new study from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus, called A/bat/Peru/10, belongs to a  of flu viruses which mainly infect birds, but can also infect other animals, including people.

Influenza A viruses are named for two proteins on the virus’ surface, hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N), such as H1N1. Previously, there were 17 known types of H proteins and 10 known types of N proteins. But the proteins on the surface of A/bat/Peru/10 are so distinct, that the researchers designated it a new virus: H18N11.

Influenza virus are known to sometimes jump species. For example, it’s thought the canine influenza virus – which affects dogs, might have first mutated from an equine influenza virus.  The canine influenza virus – which is not common among all dogs, but occurs in periodic outbreaks, has not been a threat to people, but there are a handful of reported cases of the virus jumping to cats. To date, no form of the canine influenza virus has further mutated to impact cats.

Tests done by the researchers so far suggest the virus is not an immediate concern for people, said study researcher Ruben Donis, associate director of Policy, Evaluation and Preparedness at the CDC’s Influenza Division. The researchers have not been able to grow the virus in human or primate cells, or by other methods, which is characteristic of viruses that do not infect humans, Donis said. The virus may have very specific requirements for growth, for instance it may only be able to replicate in the intestinal cells of bats, he said.

Last year, the same group of researchers identified a distinct influenza A virus, H17N10, in fruit bats living in Guatemala.

[10 Deadly Diseases That Hopped Across Species]