Molecular characterization of H9N2 influenza viruses: were they the donors of the "internal" genes of H5N1 viruses in Hong Kong?
The origin of the H5N1 influenza viruses that killed six of eighteen infected humans in 1997 and were highly pathogenic in chickens has not been resolved. These H5N1 viruses transmitted directly to humans from infected poultry. In the poultry markets in Hong Kong, both H5N1 and H9N2 influenza viruses were cocirculating, raising the possibility of genetic reassortment. Here we analyze the antigenic and genetic features of H9N2 influenza viruses with different epidemiological backgrounds. The results suggest that the H9N2 influenza viruses of domestic ducks have become established in the domestic poultry of Asia. Phylogenetic and antigenic analyses of the H9N2 viruses isolated from Hong Kong markets suggest three distinct sublineages. Among the chicken H9N2 viruses, six of the gene segments were apparently derived from an earlier chicken H9N2 virus isolated in China, whereas the PB1 and PB2 genes are closely related to those of the H5N1 viruses and a quail H9N2 virus-A/quail/Hong Kong/G1/97 (Qa/HK/G1/97)-suggesting that many of the 1997 chicken H9 isolates in the markets were reassortants. The similarity of the internal genes of Qa/HK/G1/97 virus to those of the H5N1 influenza viruses suggests that the quail virus may have been the internal gene donor. Our findings indicate that the human and poultry H5N1 influenza viruses in Hong Kong in 1997 were reassortants that obtained internal gene segments from Qa/HK/G1/97. However, we cannot be certain whether the replicate complex of H5N1 originated from Qa/HK/G1/97 or whether the reverse transfer occurred; the available evidence supports the former proposal. (+info)
Characterization of the pathogenicity of members of the newly established H9N2 influenza virus lineages in Asia.
The reported transmission of avian H9N2 influenza viruses to humans and the isolation of these viruses from Hong Kong poultry markets lend urgency to studies of their ecology and pathogenicity. We found that H9N2 viruses from North America differ from those of Asia. The North American viruses, which infect primarily domestic turkeys, replicated poorly in inoculated chickens. Phylogenetic analysis of the hemagglutinin and nucleoprotein genes indicated that the Asian H9N2 influenza viruses could be divided into three sublineages. Initial biological characterization of at least one virus from each lineage was done in animals. Early isolates of one lineage (A/Chicken/Beijing/1/94, H9N2) caused as high as 80% mortality rates in inoculated chickens, whereas all other strains were nonpathogenic. Sequence analysis showed that some isolates, including the pathogenic isolate, had one additional basic amino acid (A-R/K-S-S-R-) at the hemagglutinin cleavage site. Later isolates of the same lineage (A/Chicken/Hong Kong/G9/97, H9N2) that contains the PB1 and PB2 genes similar to Hong Kong/97 H5N1 viruses replicated in chickens, ducks, mice, and pigs but were pathogenic only in mice. A/Quail/Hong Kong/G1/97 (H9N2), from a second lineage that possesses the replicative complex similar to Hong Kong/97 H5N1 virus, replicated in chickens and ducks without producing disease signs, was pathogenic in mice, and spread to the brain without adaptation. Examples of the third Asian H9N2 sublineage (A/Chicken/Korea/323/96, Duck/Hong Kong/Y439/97) replicated in chickens, ducks, and mice without producing disease signs. The available evidence supports the notion of differences in pathogenicity of H9N2 viruses in the different lineages and suggests that viruses possessing genome segments similar to 1997 H5N1-like viruses are potentially pathogenic in mammals. (+info)
Avian-to-human transmission of H9N2 subtype influenza A viruses: relationship between H9N2 and H5N1 human isolates.
In 1997, 18 cases of influenza in Hong Kong (bird flu) caused by a novel H5N1 (chicken) virus resulted in the deaths of six individuals and once again raised the specter of a potentially devastating influenza pandemic. Slaughter of the poultry in the live bird markets removed the source of infection and no further human cases of H5N1 infection have occurred. In March 1999, however, a new pandemic threat appeared when influenza A H9N2 viruses infected two children in Hong Kong. These two virus isolates are similar to an H9N2 virus isolated from a quail in Hong Kong in late 1997. Although differing in their surface hemagglutinin and neuraminidase components, a notable feature of these H9N2 viruses is that the six genes encoding the internal components of the virus are similar to those of the 1997 H5N1 human and avian isolates. This common feature emphasizes the apparent propensity of avian viruses with this genetic complement to infect humans and highlights the potential for the emergence of a novel human pathogen. (+info)
H9N2 influenza viruses possessing H5N1-like internal genomes continue to circulate in poultry in southeastern China.
The transmission of H9N2 influenza viruses to humans and the realization that the A/Hong Kong/156/97-like (H5N1) (abbreviated HK/156/97) genome complex may be present in H9N2 viruses in southeastern China necessitated a study of the distribution and characterization of H9N2 viruses in poultry in the Hong Kong SAR in 1999. Serological studies indicated that H9N2 influenza viruses had infected a high proportion of chickens and other land-based birds (pigeon, pheasant, quail, guinea fowl, and chukka) from southeastern China. Two lineages of H9N2 influenza viruses present in the live-poultry markets were represented by A/Quail/Hong Kong/G1/97 (Qa/HK/G1/97)-like and A/Duck/Hong Kong/Y280/97 (Dk/HK/Y280/97)-like viruses. Up to 16% of cages of quail in the poultry markets contained Qa/HK/G1/97-like viruses, while about 5% of cages of other land-based birds were infected with Dk/HK/Y280/97-like viruses. No reassortant between the two H9N2 virus lineages was detected despite their cocirculation in the poultry markets. Reassortant viruses represented by A/Chicken/Hong Kong/G9/97 (H9N2) were the major H9N2 influenza viruses circulating in the Hong Kong markets in 1997 but have not been detected since the chicken slaughter in 1997. The Qa/HK/G1/97-like viruses were frequently isolated from quail, while Dk/HK/Y280/97-like viruses were predominately associated with chickens. The Qa/HK/G1/97-like viruses were evolving relatively rapidly, especially in their PB2, HA, NP, and NA genes, suggesting that they are in the process of adapting to a new host. Experimental studies showed that both H9N2 lineages were primarily spread by the aerosol route and that neither quail nor chickens showed evidence of disease. The high prevalence of quail infected with Qa/HK/G1/97-like virus that contains six gene segments genetically highly related to HK/156/97 (H5N1) virus emphasizes the need for surveillance of mammals including humans. (+info)
H9N2 subtype influenza A viruses in poultry in pakistan are closely related to the H9N2 viruses responsible for human infection in Hong Kong.
Following the outbreak of H5N1 "bird flu" in Hong Kong in 1997, the isolation of H9N2 subtype viruses from patients in southern China and Hong Kong SAR once again raised the spectre of a possible influenza pandemic. H9N2 viruses have recently been responsible for disease in poultry in various parts of the world and preliminary studies of the H9 haemagglutinin (HA) genes of viruses isolated during 1998 and 1999 in Germany, Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia showed a close relationship to the HA genes of the viruses that infected two children in Hong Kong SAR. Analysis of the complete genome of a Pakistan isolate, A/chicken/Pakistan/2/99, showed that it is closely related in all eight genes (97-99% homology) to the human H9N2 isolates and furthermore that the six genes encoding internal components of the virus are similar to the corresponding genes of the H5N1 viruses that caused 6 (out of 18) fatal cases of human infection. Thus H9N2 viruses similar to those that caused human infections in Hong Kong are circulating more widely in other parts of the world. Whether or not these H9N2 viruses also have features that facilitate avian-to-human transmission is not known. Since avian H9N2 viruses are currently perceived to represent a significant threat to human health it is important to determine whether or not viruses of this subtype circulating in poultry in various parts of the world have the potential to infect people. (+info)
Imported parakeets harbor H9N2 influenza A viruses that are genetically closely related to those transmitted to humans in Hong Kong.
In 1997 and 1998, H9N2 influenza A viruses were isolated from the respiratory organs of Indian ring-necked parakeets (Psittacula Krameri manillensis) that had been imported from Pakistan to Japan. The two isolates were closely related to each other (>99% as determined by nucleotide analysis of eight RNA segments), indicating that H9N2 viruses of the same lineage were maintained in these birds for at least 1 year. The hemagglutinins and neuraminidases of both isolates showed >97% nucleotide identity with those of H9N2 viruses isolated from humans in Hong Kong in 1999, while the six genes encoding internal proteins were >99% identical to the corresponding genes of H5N1 viruses recovered during the 1997 outbreak in Hong Kong. These results suggest that the H9N2 parakeet viruses originating in Pakistan share an immediate ancestor with the H9N2 human viruses. Thus, influenza A viruses with the potential to be transmitted directly to humans may be circulating in captive birds worldwide. (+info)
H9N2 influenza A viruses from poultry in Asia have human virus-like receptor specificity.
H9N2 influenza A viruses are currently widespread in chickens, quail, and other poultry in Asia and have caused a few cases of influenza in humans. In this study, we found that H9N2 viruses from Hong Kong live bird markets have receptor specificity similar to that of human H3N2 viruses. In addition, the neuraminidase of poultry H9N2 viruses has mutations in its hemadsorbing site, a characteristic resembling that of human H2N2 and H3N2 viruses but differing from that of other avian viruses. Peculiar features of surface glycoproteins of H9N2 viruses from Hong Kong suggest an enhanced propensity for introduction into humans and emphasize the importance of poultry in the zoonotic transmission of influenza viruses. (+info)
Immunity to influenza A H9N2 viruses induced by infection and vaccination.
Avian influenza A H9N2 viruses are widespread among domestic poultry and were recently isolated from humans with respiratory illness in China. Two antigenically and genetically distinct groups of H9N2 viruses (G1 and G9) are prevalent in China. To evaluate a strategy for vaccination, we compared G1 and G9 viruses for their relative immunogenicity and cross-protective efficacy. Infection of BALB/c mice with representative viruses of either group protected against subsequent challenge with the homologous or heterologous H9N2 virus in the absence of detectable cross-reactive serum hemagglutination inhibition antibody. Mice injected intramuscularly with inactivated G1 whole virus vaccine were completely protected from challenge with either H9N2 virus. In contrast, mice administered inactivated G9 vaccine were only partially protected against heterologous challenge with the G1 virus. These results have implications for the development of human vaccines against H9N2 viruses, a priority for pandemic preparedness. (+info)