Emerging and well-known viral diseases remain one the most important global public health threats. A better understanding of their pathogenesis and mechanisms of transmission requires animal models that accurately reproduce these aspects of the disease. Here we review the role of ferrets as an animal model for the pathogenesis of different respiratory viruses with an emphasis on influenza and paramyxoviruses. We will describe the anatomic and physiologic characteristics that contribute to the natural susceptibility of ferrets to these viruses, and provide an overview of the approaches available to analyze their immune responses. Recent insights gained using this model will be highlighted, including the development of new prophylactic and therapeutic approaches. To provide decision criteria for the use of this animal model, its strengths and limitations will be discussed.
Keywords: Animal model; Ferret; Immune response evaluation; Influenza viruses; Paramyxoviruses; Pathogenesis studies; Vaccine and drug safety and efficacy assessment.
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