Oseltamivir-resistant influenza A viruses are transmitted efficiently among guinea pigs by direct contact but not by aerosol

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Influenza viruses resistant to the neuraminidase (NA) inhibitor oseltamivir arise under drug selection pressure both in vitro and in vivo. Several mutations in the active site of the viral NA are known to confer relative resistance to oseltamivir, and influenza viruses with certain oseltamivir resistance mutations have been shown to transmit efficiently among cocaged ferrets. However, it is not known whether NA mutations alter aerosol transmission of drug-resistant influenza virus. Here, we demonstrate that recombinant human influenza A/H3N2 viruses without and with oseltamivir resistance mutations (in which NA carries the mutation E119V or the double mutations E119V I222V) have similar in ovo growth kinetics and infectivity in guinea pigs. These viruses also transmit efficiently by the contact route among cocaged guinea pigs, as in the ferret model. However, in an aerosol transmission model, in which guinea pigs are caged separately, the oseltamivirresistant viruses transmit poorly or not at all; in contrast, the oseltamivir-sensitive virus transmits efficiently even in the absence of direct contact. The present results suggest that oseltamivir resistance mutations reduce aerosol transmission of influenza virus, which could have implications for public health measures taken in the event of an influenza pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10052-10058
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 2008


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