Serological survey of canine H3N2, pandemic H1N1/09, and human seasonal H3N2 influenza viruses in cats in northern China, 2010–2014
- Xuxiao Zhang†1,
- Ye Shen†1,
- Lijie Du1,
- Ran Wang1,
- Bo Jiang1,
- Honglei Sun1,
- Juan Pu1,
- Degui Lin1,
- Ming Wang1,
- Jinhua Liu1 and
- Yipeng Sun1Email author
© Zhang et al.; licensee BioMed Central. 2015
Received: 13 October 2014
Accepted: 23 March 2015
Published: 1 April 2015
The close contact between cats and humans poses a threat to public health because of the potential zoonotic transmission of influenza viruses to humans. Therefore, we examined the seroprevalence of pandemic H1N1/09, canine H3N2, and human H3N2 viruses in pet cats in northern China from 2010 to 2014.
Of 1794 serum samples, the seropositivity rates for H1N1/09, canine H3N2, and human H3N2 were 5.7%, 0.7%, and 0.4%, respectively. The seropositivity rate for H1N1/09 in cats was highest in 2010 (8.3%), and then declined continuously thereafter. Cats older than 10 years were most commonly seropositive for the H1N1/09 virus.
Our findings emphasize the need for continuous surveillance of influenza viruses in cats in China.
Different subtypes of influenza viruses are reported to be naturally transmitted to cats from other species worldwide, including avian viruses (H5N1), canine viruses (H3N2), and human viruses (pandemic H1N1/09, seasonal H1N1, and H3N2) [1-3]. The close contact between cats and humans possesses a threat to public health because of the potential zoonotic transmission of influenza viruses to humans. In China, the canine H3N2 and H1N1/09 influenza viruses circulate in dogs , and the seasonal H3N2 and H1N1/09 viruses are prevalent in humans [5,6], any of which might be transmitted to cats. Therefore, we examined the seroprevalence of the pandemic H1N1/09, canine H3N2, and human seasonal H3N2 influenza viruses in cats in northern China from January 2010 to June 2014.
Characteristics of the tested cats for three influenza viruses and the seroprevalence of the sera against these influenza viruses
No. (%) samples a
No. (%) positive
Canine H3N2 c
Human H3N2 d
P e < 0.001
P = 0.876
P = 0.754
P = 0.261
P = 0.272
P = 0.676
P = 0.356
P = 0.694
P = 0.357
Although neither H1N1/09, canine H3N2, nor human H3N2 has previously been isolated from cats in China, we provided serological evidence that these viruses infected cats in this country. H1N1/09 influenza virus has been repeatedly detected in cats in other countries, and the infected cats present severe respiratory symptoms or even death [14-16]. Evidence of the cat-to-cat transmission of H1N1/09 has be observed both experimentally and clinically [15,17]. In contrast, only one canine H3N2 strain has been isolated from cats , and no human seasonal H3N2 virus has been detected in cats. Consistent with these data, the seroprevalence of H1N1/09 (5.7%) was higher than that of canine H3N2 (0.7%) or human seasonal H3N2 (0.4%) in the present study.
Cats aged 10 years or more had a higher seroprevalence of H1N1/09 influenza virus than the other age groups, which might be attributable to the reduced immunity of old cats. The seropositivity rate of H1N1/09 influenza in this study (5.7%) was higher than that in domestic cats in Germany in the period from 2010 to 2011 (1.9%) , or in cats in southern China (1.2% by ELISA and 0.6% by HI) . A high prevalence of H1N1/09 was observed among domestic cats in America during the 2009–2010 influenza season (21.8%) , and an H1N1/09 outbreak, with a seroprevalence (55%), occurred in a cat colony in Italy in November 2009 . Zhao et al. found a particularly high seropositivity rate for H1N1/09 (21%) in northeastern China from 2012 to 2013 . Our results show that the highest seropositivity rate in cats during the period examined was in 2010, which was possibly related to the outbreak of the H1N1/09 virus in humans in China.
The present study demonstrates that the H1N1/09, canine H3N2, and human H3N2 influenza viruses are prevalent in cats in China. Therefore, the continuous surveillance of influenza viruses in cats in China is necessary to monitor the threat of infection at the human–animal interface.
This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program (973 Program) (no. 2011CB504702), the Chinese National High-Tech R&D Program (863 Program) (2012AA101303), and the National Science & Technology Pillar Program (2013BAD12B01).
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