Phylogeography of Highly Pathogenic H5 Avian Influenza Viruses in China

Abstract

The spread of H5 highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses poses serious threats to the poultry industry, wild bird ecology and human health. Circulation of H5 viruses between poultry and wild birds is a significant public health threat in China. Thus, viral migration networks in this region need to be urgently studied. Here, we conducted molecular genetic analyses of the hemagglutinin genes of H5 highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses in multiple hosts from 2000 to 2018 in China. Our aim was to clarify the roles of different hosts in the evolution of H5 viruses. We used a flexible Bayesian statistical framework to simulate viral space diffusion and continuous-time Markov chains to infer the dynamic evolutionary process of spatiotemporal dissemination. Bayesian phylogeographic analysis of H5 viruses showed for the first time that H5 viruses in poultry and wild birds were present in Guangdong Province. Furthermore, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai and Hunan acted as the epicenters for the spread of various H5 subtypes viruses in poultry, and Henan, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Inner Mongolia acted as epicenters for the spread of various H5 subtypes viruses in wild birds. Thus, H5 viruses exhibited distinct evolutionary dynamics in poultry and wild birds. Our findings extend our understanding of the transmission and spread of highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza viruses in China.

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Acknowledgements

This study was partially supported by the National Research Program of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China (2016YFA0600104) and by donations from Delos Living LLC and the Cyrus Tang Foundation to Tsinghua University.

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XWL and BX conceived and designed the research. XYL provided helpful suggestions regarding the study. XWL and BX wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Bing Xu.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Li, X., Li, X. & Xu, B. Phylogeography of Highly Pathogenic H5 Avian Influenza Viruses in China. Virol. Sin. 35, 548–555 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12250-020-00193-7

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Keywords

  • Influenza
  • H5 viruses
  • Phylogeography
  • Spatial dispersion
  • Population dynamics
  • China