Animal models for influenza virus pathogenesis and transmission

Nicole M. Bouvier, Anice C. Lowen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

262 Scopus citations


Influenza virus infection of humans results in a respiratory disease that ranges in severity from sub-clinical infection to primary viral pneumonia that can result in death. The clinical effects of infection vary with the exposure history, age and immune status of the host, and also the virulence of the influenza strain. In humans, the virus is transmitted through either aerosol or contact-based transfer of infectious respiratory secretions. As is evidenced by most zoonotic influenza virus infections, not all strains that can infect humans are able to transmit from person-to-person. Animal models of influenza are essential to research efforts aimed at understanding the viral and host factors that contribute to the disease and transmission outcomes of influenza virus infection in humans. These models furthermore allow the pre-clinical testing of antiviral drugs and vaccines aimed at reducing morbidity and mortality in the population through amelioration of the virulence or transmissibility of influenza viruses. Mice, ferrets, guinea pigs, cotton rats, hamsters and macaques have all been used to study influenza viruses and therapeutics targeting them. Each model presents unique advantages and disadvantages, which will be discussed herein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1530-1563
Number of pages34
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • Animal model
  • Antiviral drug
  • Influenza vaccine
  • Influenza virus
  • Pathogenicity
  • Transmission


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