Multiple reassorted viruses as cause of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N8) virus epidemic, the Netherlands, 2016

Nancy Beerens*, Rene Heutink, Saskia A. Bergervoet, Frank Harders, Alex Bossers, Guus Koch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In 2016, an epidemic of highly pathogenic avian influenza A virus subtype H5N8 in the Netherlands caused mass deaths among wild birds, and several commercial poultry farms and captive bird holdings were affected. We performed complete genome sequencing to study the relationship between the wild bird and poultry viruses. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the viruses are related to H5 clade 2.3.4.4 viruses detected in Russia in May 2016 but contained novel polymerase basic 2 and nucleoprotein gene segments and 2 different variants of the polymerase acidic segment. Molecular dating suggests that the reassortment events most likely occurred in wild birds in Russia or Mongolia. Furthermore, 2 genetically distinct H5N5 reassortant viruses were detected in wild birds in the Netherlands. Our study provides evidence for fast and continuing reassortment of H5 clade 2.3.4.4 viruses, which might lead to rapid changes in virus characteristics, such as pathogenicity, infectivity, transmission, and zoonotic potential.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1966-1973
JournalEmerging Infectious Diseases
Volume23
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

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