Waterfowl are considered to be the natural hosts of avian influenza virus. In 2017, two reassortant highly pathogenic H5N6 avian influenza viruses of clade 18.104.22.168, subclade II, were identified in wild birds in eastern China. Genome sequencing and phylogenetic and antigenicity analysis showed that the viruses originated from multiple reassortments. To evaluate their pathogenicity in mammals, 15 BALB/c mice were infected with these viruses, and survival and weight loss were monitored for 14 days. Infection was associated with moderate pathogenicity in the mice, and the viruses could replicate in the lungs without prior adaptation. Thus, the existence of these viruses poses a continuous threat to both birds and humans.
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This study was funded by grants from the National Science and Technology Major Project for the Control and Prevention of Major Infectious Diseases in China (2018ZX10711001, 2018ZX10102001 and 2020ZX10101016-004-002), Zhejiang Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China (LY19H260006), and the Independent Task of State Key Laboratory for Diagnosis and Treatment of Infectious Diseases (2020ZZ17).
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The animal experiments were approved by the First Affiliated Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University (No. 2017-015).
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Yang, F., Xiao, Y., Liu, F. et al. Isolation and characterization of two novel reassortant H5N6 avian influenza viruses from waterfowl in eastern China. Arch Virol 166, 1197–1201 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00705-021-04995-2