Influenza A Virus in Bats [2]

Here I wrote about the discovery of two novel Influenza viruses in Central and South-American bats. Previously and provisionally designated Influenza A(H17N10) and Influenza A(H18N11), further research has revealed some worrying facts[1].

As is usual, Influenza subtypes are named by their (simply increasing in number of discovery) hemagglutinin (HA or H) and neuraminidase (NA or N) proteins.
Studies indicate that H17 and H18 HAs are unable to bind and hemagglutinate red blood cells and therefore are not “true” HAs. Thus, the scientists suggest that HAs from both H17 and H18 influenza A-like viruses should be named as “HA-like” (HL) proteins (HL17 and HL18). The N10 protein exhibits no or extremely low NA activity suggests that it may have a different function than the NA proteins of other influenza viruses. The scientists therefore suggest that N10 and N11 from bat influenza A-like viruses should be designated as “NA-like” (NL) proteins (NL10 and NL11)[2].

The new provisional naming of these two viruses is therefore: HL17NL10 and HL18NL11.

Several lines of evidence indicate that bat Influenza A-like viruses are of low risk for the human population. Yet, the evidence also suggests that the ability of HL18NL11 or HL17NL10 viruses to infect canine and human cells might reflects a zo├Ânotic potential of these recently identified bat viruses.

[1] Moreira et al: Synthetically derived bat influenza A-like viruses reveal a cell type- but not species-specific tropism in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America – 2016
[2] Wenjun et al: Expected and Unexpected Features of the Newly Discovered Bat Influenza A-like Viruses in PloS Pathogens - 2015

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