Characterization of an H5N8 influenza A virus isolated from chickens during an outbreak of severe avian influenza in Japan in April 2014
A highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) of subtype H5N8, A/chicken/Kumamoto/1-7/2014, was isolated from a Japanese chicken farm during an outbreak in April 2014. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that this virus belonged to HA clade 18.104.22.168. All eight genomic segments showed high sequence similarity to those of the H5N8 subtype HPAIVs A/broiler duck/Korea/Buan2/2014 and A/baikal teal/Korea/Donglim3/2014, which were isolated in Korea in January 2014. Intranasal experimental infection of chickens and ducks with A/chicken/Kumamoto/1-7/2014 was performed to assess the pathogenicity of the virus in chickens and the potential for waterfowl to act as a virus reservoir and carrier. A high-titer virus challenge (106 EID50 per animal) was lethal in chickens, but they were unaffected by lower virus doses (102 EID50 or 104 EID50 per animal). Virus challenge at all doses examined was found to result in asymptomatic infection of ducks. An HI assay revealed that A/chicken/Kumamoto/1-7/2014 possessed relatively low cross-reactivity with H5 viruses belonging to clades other than clade 22.214.171.124. These results suggest that waterfowl may be able to spread the virus even if they possess antibodies resulting from a previous infection with H5 HPAIV that was antigenically distinguishable from viruses belonging to clade 126.96.36.199.