Phylogenetic and molecular analysis of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 and H5N5 viruses detected in Poland in 2016-2017.
Sixty-five poultry outbreaks and sixty-eight events in wild birds were reported during the highly pathogenic H5N8/H5N5 avian influenza epidemic in Poland in 2016-2017. The analysis of all gene segment sequences of selected strains revealed cocirculation of at least four different genome configurations (genotypes) generated through reassortment of clade 18.104.22.168 H5N8 viruses detected in Russia and China in mid-2016. The geographical and temporal distribution of three H5N8 genotypes indicates separate introductions. Additionally, an H5N5 virus with a different gene configuration was detected in wild birds. The compilation of the results with those from studies on the virus' diversity in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands revealed that Europe was affected by at least eight different H5N8/H5N5 reassortants. Analysis of the HA gene sequence of a larger subset of samples showed its diversification corresponding to the genotype classification. The close relationship between poultry and wild bird strains from the same locations observed in several cases points to wild birds as the primary source of the outbreaks in poultry.