Evidence for wild waterfowl origin of H7N3 influenza A virus detected in captive-reared New Jersey pheasants
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In August 2014, a low-pathogenic H7N3 influenza A virus was isolated from pheasants at a New Jersey gamebird farm and hunting preserve. In this study, we use phylogenetic analyses and calculations of genetic similarity to gain inference into the genetic ancestry of this virus and to identify potential routes of transmission. Results of maximum-likelihood (ML) and maximum-clade-credibility (MCC) phylogenetic analyses provide evidence that A/pheasant/New Jersey/26996-2/2014 (H7N3) had closely related H7 hemagglutinin (HA) and N3 neuraminidase (NA) gene segments as compared to influenza A viruses circulating among wild waterfowl in the central and eastern USA. The estimated time of the most recent common ancestry (TMRCA) between the pheasant virus and those most closely related from wild waterfowl was early 2013 for both the H7 HA and N3 NA gene segments. None of the viruses from waterfowl identified as being most closely related to A/pheasant/New Jersey/26996-2/2014 at the HA and NA gene segments in ML and MCC phylogenetic analyses shared ≥99 % nucleotide sequence identity for internal gene segment sequences. This result indicates that specific viral strains identified in this study as being closely related to the HA and NA gene segments of A/pheasant/New Jersey/26996-2/2014 were not the direct predecessors of the etiological agent identified during the New Jersey outbreak. However, the recent common ancestry of the H7 and N3 gene segments of waterfowl-origin viruses and the virus isolated from pheasants suggests that viral diversity maintained in wild waterfowl likely played an important role in the emergence of A/pheasant/New Jersey/26996-2/2014.
KeywordsGene Segment Nucleotide Sequence Identity Genetic Ancestry Domestic Bird Coalescent Analysis
We appreciate field and laboratory support by Nick Davis-Fields, Alinde Fojtik, Clara Kienzle, and John Reed. We thank John Pearce, Mary Pantin-Jackwood, and two anonymous reviewers for providing critical reviews.
Compliance with ethical standards
This project was Funded by the U.S. Geological Survey through the Wildlife Program of the Ecosystems Mission area, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under contract HHSN272201400006C., and by ‘chaire mixte: institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale – université de La Réunion’. None of the authors have any financial interests or conflict of interest with this article. Any use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.
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