Penguin blood samples collected at Bird Island, sub-Antarctic South Georgia, and faecal samples taken from penguins at several localities along the Antarctic Peninsula were analysed in order to investigate if influenza A virus is present in penguin populations in the South Atlantic Antarctic region. Serology was performed on the blood samples while the faecal samples were screened by a RT-PCR method directed at the matrix protein gene for determining the presence of influenza A virus. All faecal samples were negative by PCR, but the blood samples gave serologic indications that influenza A virus is present amongst these penguin species, confirming previous studies, although the virus has still not been isolated from any bird in the Antarctic region.

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Antarctic Science
Department of Virology

Wallensten, A., Munster, V., Osterhaus, A., Waldenström, J., Bonnedahl, J., Broman, T., … Olsen, B. (2006). Mounting evidence for the presence of influenza A virus in the avifauna of the Antarctic region. Antarctic Science, 18(3), 353–356. doi:10.1017/S095410200600040X