Seropositivity to avian influenza (AI) via low-level antibody titers has been reported in the general population and poultry-exposed individuals, raising the question whether these findings reflect true infection with AI or cross-reactivity. Here we investigated serological profiles against human and avian influenza viruses in the general population using a protein microarray platform. We hypothesized that higher antibody diversity across recent H1 and H3 influenza viruses would be associated with heterosubtypic reactivity to older pandemic-and AI viruses. We found significant heterogeneity in antibody profiles. Increased antibody diversity to seasonal influenza viruses was associated with low-level heterosubtypic antibodies to H9 and H7, but not to H5 AI virus. Individuals exposed to the recent 2009 A(H1N1) pandemic showed higher heterosubtypic reactivity. We show that there is a complex interplay between prior exposures to seasonal and recent pandemic influenza viruses and the development of heterosubtypic antibody reactivity to animal influenza viruses.
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