Influenza A virus – a global threat for humans and animals

  • Wild birds, particularly waterfowl, are considered to be a natural reservoir for the influenza A virus.
  • Highly pathogenic bird flu viruses cause classical avian flu in chickens and turkeys leading to 100% mortality.
  • Bird flu viruses possess a zoonotic potential and in rare cases may lead to serious illnesses in humans with a fatal outcome.
  • Pigs may serve as a host for porcine, avian and human influenza viruses. Novel influenza A viruses having pandemic potential may result from the adaptation and exchange of gene segments.

 Activities of the IVI

  • Diagnostic support and expertise in the event of an outbreak of disease
  • Isolating bird flu viruses and pathotyping
  • Differentiation of high and low pathogenic virus strains by sequencing
  • Research into molecular mechanisms of virus transmission, virus pathogenesis and virus formation
  • Developing new and effective vaccines : vector vaccines and live attenuated vaccines.

Which virus is behind the flu?

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While all eyes are focused on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, another virus currently circulating in Europe hits the poultry industry seriously. Hundreds of thousands of birds had to be culled this winter in order to control this epizootic. The pathogen responsible for this animal disease is an influenza virus. Other influenza viruses cause disease in pigs or “flu” in humans. What is the relationship between these different influenza viruses?

Interview with Dr Gert Zimmer, a virologist at the Institute of Virology and Immunology (IVI) and the University of Bern (PDF, 214 kB, 24.02.2022)

NEWS from IVI on cases in Switzerland 


Last modification 21.07.2022

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