Clinical profiles associated with influenza disease in the ferret model

PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58337. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058337. Epub 2013 Mar 5.


Influenza A viruses continue to pose a threat to human health; thus, various vaccines and prophylaxis continue to be developed. Testing of these products requires various animal models including mice, guinea pigs, and ferrets. However, because ferrets are naturally susceptible to infection with human influenza viruses and because the disease state resembles that of human influenza, these animals have been widely used as a model to study influenza virus pathogenesis. In this report, a statistical analysis was performed to evaluate data involving 269 ferrets infected with seasonal influenza, swine influenza, and highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) from 16 different studies over a five year period. The aim of the analyses was to better qualify the ferret model by identifying relationships among important animal model parameters (endpoints) and variables of interest, which include survival, time-to-death, changes in body temperature and weight, and nasal wash samples containing virus, in addition to significant changes from baseline in selected hematology and clinical chemistry parameters. The results demonstrate that a disease clinical profile, consisting of various changes in the biological parameters tested, is associated with various influenza A infections in ferrets. Additionally, the analysis yielded correlates of protection associated with HPAI disease in ferrets. In all, the results from this study further validate the use of the ferret as a model to study influenza A pathology and to evaluate product efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Temperature
  • Body Weight
  • Chickens
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Ferrets
  • Hemagglutination
  • Hemagglutination Inhibition Tests
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype
  • Influenza A Virus, H3N2 Subtype
  • Influenza A Virus, H5N1 Subtype
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / pathology*
  • Orthomyxoviridae Infections / physiopathology*
  • Time Factors