Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

A new reassortant clade 2.3.2.1a H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus causing recent outbreaks in ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys in Bangladesh.

Abstract

A total of 15 dead or sick birds from 13 clinical outbreaks of avian influenza in ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys in 2017 in Bangladesh were examined. The presence of H5N1 influenza A virus in the affected birds was detected by RT-PCR. Phylogenetic analysis based on full-length gene sequences of all eight gene segments revealed that these recent outbreaks were caused by a new reassortant of clade 2.3.2.1a H5N1 virus, which had been detected earlier in 2015 during surveillance in live bird markets (LBMs) and wet lands. This reassortant virus acquired PB2, PB1, PA, NP and NS genes from low pathogenic avian influenza viruses mostly of non-H9N2 subtypes but retained HA, NA and M genes of the old clade 2.3.2.1a viruses. Nevertheless, the HA gene of these new viruses was 2.7% divergent from that of the old clade 2.3.2.1a viruses circulated in Bangladesh. Interestingly, similar reassortment events could be traced back in four 2.3.2.1a virus isolates of 2013 from backyard ducks. It suggests that this reassortant virus emerged in 2013, which took two years to be detected at a broader scale (i.e. in LBMs), another two years until it became widely spread in poultry and fully replaced the old viruses. Several mutations were detected in the recent Bangladeshi isolates, which are likely to influence possible phenotypic alterations such as increased mammalian adaptation, reduced susceptibility to antiviral agents and reduced host antiviral response.