Bird Flu Alarm

Subtypes of Influenza A Viruses

Influenza A viruses are divided into subtypes on the basis of two proteins on the surface of the virus: hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). For example, an "H7N2 virus" designates an influenza A virus subtype that has an HA 7 protein and an NA 2 protein. Similarly an "H5N1" virus has an HA 5 protein and an NA 1 protein. There are 18 known HA subtypes and 11 known NA subtypes. Many different combinations of HA and NA proteins are possible.

All known subtypes of influenza A viruses can infect birds, except subtypes H17N10 and H18N11, which have only been found in bats. Only two influenza A virus subtypes (i.e., H1N1, and H3N2) are currently in general circulation among people. Some subtypes are found in other infected animal species. For example, H7N7 and H3N8 virus infections can cause illness in horses, and H3N8 virus infection can also cause illness in dogs.