In order to investigate the potential role of mussels as a vector of influenza A viruses, we exposed zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) to natural lake water containing a low pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus. Mussels were kept in water containing virus for 48 hr, then transferred into fresh water for another 14 days. Virus detection in mussels and water samples was performed by quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase-PCR (qRRT-PCR) and egg culture methods. Virus uptake was detected in all of the mussel groups that were exposed to virus. Even after 14 days in fresh water, virus could still be detected in shellfish material by both qRRT-PCR and egg culture methods. The present study demonstrates that zebra mussels are capable of accumulating influenza A viruses from the surrounding water and that these viruses remain in the mussels over an extended period of time.
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Vol. 54 • No. 4