It's official: Influenza D Virus

Late in 2013, I wrote here about the discovery of a novel Influenza Virus that was then tentatively called Influenza D Virus to reflect its similarities and differences with the other Influenza viruses.

Now, late 2016, the executive committee of the International Committee of Taxonomy of Viruses officially approved naming the new virus, influenza D. The committee officially announced a new genus with a single species, Influenza D virus, because of its distinctness from the other Influenza types — Influenza A, B and C.
Though Ben Hause isolated the virus from a diseased pig in 2011, he later found that cattle were the primary reservoir for influenza D. This was the very first Influenza Virus identified in cattle.

Ultimately, the goal is to determine whether influenza D, which has 50 percent similarity to human influenza C, can cause problems in humans. However, the scientists involved, Feng Li and Radhey Kaushik, claim that “the virus has not been shown to be pathogenic in humans. No one should be afraid of this.”

Somehow they seem to forget the lessons from other Influenza viruses: they reassort frequently, mutate readily and have pervasive antigenic shifts and antigenic drifts. Why should Influenza D be different? “We have much to learn about this new virus,” said Li. That much, at least, is true, because a study indicates that the virus may be an emerging pathogen among cattle-workers.

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