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Epidemiological risk factors for animal influenza A viruses overcoming species barriers

Drivers and risk factors for Influenza A virus transmission across species barriers are poorly understood, despite the ever present threat to human and animal health potentially on a pandemic scale. Here we review the published evidence for epidemiological risk factors associated with influenza viruses transmitting between animal species and from animals to humans. A total of 39 papers were found with evidence of epidemiological risk factors for influenza virus transmission from animals to humans; 18 of which had some statistical measure associated with the transmission of a virus. Circumstantial or observational evidence of risk factors for transmission between animal species was found in 21 papers, including proximity to infected animals, ingestion of infected material and potential association with a species known to carry influenza virus. Only three publications were found which presented a statistical measure of an epidemiological risk factor for the transmission of influenza between animal species. This review has identified a significant gap in knowledge regarding epidemiological risk factors for the transmission of influenza viruses between animal species.