Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 viruses are now endemic in many Asian countries, resulting in repeated outbreaks in poultry and increased cases of human infection. The immediate precursor of these HPAI viruses is believed to be A/goose/Guangdong/1/96 (Gs/GD)-like H5N1 HPAI viruses first detected in Guangdong, China, in 1996. From 2000 onwards, many novel reassortant H5N1 influenza viruses or genotypes have emerged in southern China. However, precursors of the Gs/GD-like viruses and their subsequent reassortants have not been fully determined. Here we characterize low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) H5 subtype viruses isolated from poultry and migratory birds in southern China and Europe from the 1970s to the 2000s. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that Gs/GD-like virus was likely derived from an LPAI H5 virus in migratory birds. However, its variants arose from multiple reassortments between Gs/GD-like virus and viruses from migratory birds or with those Eurasian viruses isolated in the 1970s. It is of note that unlike HPAI H5N1 viruses, those recent LPAI H5 viruses have not become established in aquatic or terrestrial poultry. Phylogenetic analyses revealed the dynamic nature of the influenza virus gene pool in Eurasia with repeated transmissions between the eastern and western extremities of the continent. The data also show reassortment between influenza viruses from domestic and migratory birds in this region that has contributed to the expanded diversity of the influenza virus gene pool among poultry in Eurasia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science