Low-pathogenic avian influenza viruses (LPAIVs) of the H5 subtype can mutate to highly pathogenic forms, potentially destabilizing the poultry industry. Wild migratory birds are considered a natural reservoir of LPAIVs capable of dispersing both high- and low-pathogenic forms of the virus. Therefore, surveillance and characterization of AIV in wild birds are essential. Here, we report on the isolation and genetic characterization of 10 AIVs of the H5N2 subtype obtained through surveillance in Hokkaido, Japan, during 2009 and 2011. Full-genome sequencing revealed that the H5 and N2 genes of these isolates are all closely related to each other, belonging to the Eurasian avian-like lineage, but they are unrelated to H5 highly pathogenic strains of clade 220.127.116.11. The internal genes of the isolates were found to be diverse, consistent with our hypothesis that these H5N2 strains have undergone multiple reassortment events. Even though all of the H5N2 isolates were characterized as LPAIV based on the amino acid sequences at the HA cleavage site, this analysis demonstrates a diverse pool of precursors that may seed future outbreaks in poultry and possible human transmissions, suggesting the need for high-quality surveillance.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 30, 2016
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