Spatial transmission of H5N6 highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses among wild birds in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, 2016–2017
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From 29 November 2016 to 24 January 2017, sixty-three cases of H5N6 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) infections were detected in wild birds in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. Here, we analyzed the genetic, temporal, and geographic correlations of these 63 HPAIVs to elucidate their dissemination throughout the prefecture. Full-genome sequence analysis of the Ibaraki isolates showed that 7 segments (PB2, PB1, PA, HA, NP, NA, NS) were derived from G1.1.9 strains while the M segment was from G1.1 strains; both groups of strains circulated in south China. Pathological studies revealed severe systemic infection in dead swans (the majority of dead birds and the only species necropsied), thus indicating high susceptibility to H5N6 HPAIVs. Coalescent phylogenetic analysis using the 7 G1.1.9-derived segments enabled detailed analysis of the short-term evolution of these highly homologous HPAIVs. This analysis revealed that the H5N6 HPAIVs isolated from wild birds in Ibaraki Prefecture were divided into 7 groups. Spatial analysis demonstrated that most of the cases concentrated around Senba Lake originated from a single source, and progeny viruses were transmitted to other locations after the infection expanded in mute swans. In contrast, within just a 5-km radius of the area in which cases were concentrated, three different intrusions of H5N6 HPAIVs were evident. Multi-segment analysis of short-term evolution showed that not only was the invading virus spread throughout Ibaraki Prefecture but also that, despite the small size of this region, multiple invasions had occurred during winter 2016–2017.
In this research, we used the supercomputer of AFFRIT, MAFF, Japan.
RT designed the study, characterized viruses, and drafted the manuscript; YY, YK, and KY conducted pathology diagnosis and virus isolation; TS designed and coordinated the study and drafted the manuscript; NT, JM, TT, and YU characterized the viruses; all authors have read and approved the manuscript.
This study was part of a research project for improving food safety and animal health that was supported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries of Japan.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or live animals performed by any of the authors.
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