Indexed on: 09 Jul '14Published on: 09 Jul '14Published in: Current topics in microbiology and immunology
The ability of an influenza virus to transmit efficiently from human-to-human is a major factor in determining the epidemiological impact of that strain. The use of a relevant animal model to identify viral determinants of transmission, as well as host and environmental factors affecting transmission efficiency, is therefore critical for public health. The characterization of newly emerging influenza viruses in terms of their potential to transmit in a mammalian host is furthermore an important part of pandemic risk assessment. For these reasons, a guinea pig model of influenza virus transmission was developed in 2006. The guinea pig provides an important alternative to preexisting models for influenza. Most influenza viruses do not readily transmit among mice. Ferrets, while highly relevant, are expensive and can be difficult to obtain in high numbers. Moreover, it is generally accepted that efforts to accurately model human disease are strengthened by the use of multiple animal species. Herein, we provide an overview of influenza virus infectivity, growth, and transmission in the guinea pig and highlight knowledge gained on the topic of influenza virus transmission using the guinea pig model.