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Factors that trigger human infection with animal influenza virus progressing into a pandemic are poorly understood. Within a project developing an evidence-based risk assessment framework for influenza viruses in animals, we conducted a review of the literature for evidence of human infection with animal influenza viruses by diagnostic methods used. The review covering Medline, Embase, SciSearch and CabAbstracts yielded 6,955 articles, of which we retained 89; for influenza A(H5N1) and A(H7N9), the official case counts of the World Health Organization were used. An additional 30 studies were included by scanning the reference lists. Here, we present the findings for confirmed infections with virological evidence. We found reports of 1,419 naturally infected human cases, of which 648 were associated with avian influenza virus (AIV) A(H5N1), 375 with other AIV subtypes, and 396 with swine influenza virus (SIV). Human cases naturally infected with AIV spanned haemagglutinin subtypes H5, H6, H7, H9 and H10. SIV cases were associated with endemic SIV of H1 and H3 subtype descending from North American and Eurasian SIV lineages and various reassortants thereof. Direct exposure to birds or swine was the most likely source of infection for the cases with available information on exposure.


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