Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Genetic characteristics, pathogenicity and transmission of H5N6 highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses in Southern China.

Abstract

Since 2014, H5 highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAIVs) from clade 2.3.4.4 have been persistently circulating in Southern China. This has caused huge losses in the poultry industry. In this study, we analysed the genetic characteristics of seven H5N6 HPAIVs of clade 2.3.4.4 that infected birds in Southern China in 2016. Phylogenetic analysis grouped the HA, PB2, PA, M and NS genes as MIX-like, and the NA genes grouped into the Eurasian lineage. The PB1 genes of the GS24, GS25, CK46 and GS74 strains belonged to the VN 2014-like group and the others were grouped as MIX-like. The NP genes of GS24 and GS25 strains belonged to the ZJ-like group, but the others were MIX-like. Thus, these viruses came from different genotypes, and the GS24, GS25, CK46 and GS74 strains displayed genotype recombination. Additionally, our results showed that the mean death time of all chickens inoculated with 105 EID50 of CK46 or GS74 viruses was 3 and 3.38 days, respectively. The viruses replicated at high titers in all tested tissues of the inoculated chickens. They also replicated in all tested tissues of naive contact chickens, but their replication titers in some tissues were significantly different (p<0.05). Thus, the viruses displayed high pathogenicity and variable transmission in chickens. Therefore, it is necessary to focus on the pathogenic variation and molecular evolution of H5N6 HPAIVs in order to prevent and control avian influenza in China.