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Genesis and spread of multiple reassortants during the 2016/2017 H5 avian influenza epidemic in Eurasia

September 17, 2020

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses of the H5 A/goose/Guangdong/1/96 lineage can cause severe disease in poultry and wild birds, and occasionally in humans.

In recent years, H5 HPAI viruses of this lineage infecting poultry in Asia have spilled over into wild birds and spread via bird migration to countries in Europe, Africa, and North America. In 2016/2017, this spillover resulted in the largest HPAI epidemic on record in Europe and was associated with an unusually high frequency of reassortments between H5 HPAI viruses and cocirculating low-pathogenic avian influenza viruses. Here, we show that the seven main H5 reassortant viruses had various combinations of gene segments 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6.

Authors
Samantha J. Lycett, Anne Pohlmann, Christoph Staubach, Valentina Caliendo, Mark Woolhouse, Martin Beer, Thijs Kuiken.

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