It is important to understand the epidemiology of influenza virus infection in wild waterbirds because they form the ultimate reservoir of influenza viruses infecting humans and domestic animals. One aspect of the epidemiology that is poorly known is the virulence—ability to cause disease—of influenza virus for wild waterbirds. Review of past studies, after taking into consideration major caveats, shows that influenza virus preferentially infects the intestinal tract of wild waterbirds, and that infection is correlated with lower body weight. Therefore, I hypothesize that influenza virus reduces digestive tract function of wild waterbirds, and suggest how to investigate this.
To view the paper we published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B please follow this link