(1/1236) Rapid evolution of H5N1 influenza viruses in chickens in Hong Kong.

The H5N1 avian influenza virus that killed 6 of 18 persons infected in Hong Kong in 1997 was transmitted directly from poultry to humans. Viral isolates from this outbreak may provide molecular clues to zoonotic transfer. Here we demonstrate that the H5N1 viruses circulating in poultry comprised two distinguishable phylogenetic lineages in all genes that were in very rapid evolution. When introduced into new hosts, influenza viruses usually undergo rapid alteration of their surface glycoproteins, especially in the hemagglutinin (HA). Surprisingly, these H5N1 isolates had a large proportion of amino acid changes in all gene products except in the HA. These viruses maybe reassortants each of whose HA gene is well adapted to domestic poultry while the rest of the genome arises from a different source. The consensus amino acid sequences of "internal" virion proteins reveal amino acids previously found in human strains. These human-specific amino acids may be important factors in zoonotic transmission.  (+info)

(2/1236) Phylogenetic analysis of H7 avian influenza viruses isolated from the live bird markets of the Northeast United States.

The presence of low-pathogenic H7 avian influenza virus (AIV), which is associated with live-bird markets (LBM) in the Northeast United States, was first detected in 1994 and, despite efforts to eradicate the virus, surveillance of these markets has resulted in numerous isolations of H7 AIVs from several states from 1994 through 1998. The hemagglutinin, nonstructural, and matrix genes from representative H7 isolates from the LBM and elsewhere were sequenced, and the sequences were compared phylogenetically. The hemagglutinin gene of most LBM isolates examined appeared to have been the result of a single introduction of the hemagglutinin gene. Evidence for evolutionary changes were observed with three definable steps. The first isolate from 1994 had the amino acid threonine at the -2 position of the hemagglutinin cleavage site, which is the most commonly observed amino acid at this site for North American H7 AIVs. In January 1995 a new genotype with a proline at the -2 position was detected, and this genotype eventually became the predominant virus isolate. A third viral genotype, detected in November 1996, had an eight-amino-acid deletion within the putative receptor binding site. This viral genotype appeared to be the predominant isolate, although isolates with proline at the -2 position without the deletion were still observed in viruses from the last sampling date. Evidence for reassortment of multiple viral genes was evident. The combination of possible adaptive evolution of the virus and reassortment with different influenza virus genes makes it difficult to determine the risk of pathogenesis of this group of H7 AIVs.  (+info)

(3/1236) Genetic characterization of the pathogenic influenza A/Goose/Guangdong/1/96 (H5N1) virus: similarity of its hemagglutinin gene to those of H5N1 viruses from the 1997 outbreaks in Hong Kong.

Analysis of the sequences of all eight RNA segments of the influenza A/G oose/Guangdong/1/96 (H5N1) virus, isolated from a sick goose during an outbreak in Guangdong province, China, in 1996, revealed that the hemagglutinin (HA) gene of the virus was genetically similar to those of the H5N1 viruses isolated in Hong Kong in 1997. However, the remaining genes showed greater similarity to other avian influenza viruses. Notably, the neuraminidase gene did no have the 19-amino-acid deletion in the stalk region seen in the H5N1 Hong Kong viruses and the NS gene belonged to allele B, while that of the H5N1 Hong Kong viruses belonged to allele A. These data suggest that the H5N1 viruses isolated from the Hong Kong outbreaks derived their HA genes from a virus similar to the A/Goose/Guangdong/1/96 virus or shared a progenitor with this goose pathogen.  (+info)

(4/1236) Transmission of Eurasian avian H2 influenza virus to shorebirds in North America.

Influenza A virus of the H2 subtype caused a serious pandemic in 1957 and may cause similar outbreaks in the future. To assess the evolution and the antigenic relationships of avian influenza H2 viruses, we sequenced the haemagglutinin (HA) genes of H2 isolates from shorebirds, ducks and poultry in North America and derived a phylogenetic tree to establish their interrelationships. This analysis confirmed the divergence of H2 HA into two geographical lineages, American and Eurasian. One group of viruses isolated from shorebirds in North America had HA belonging to the Eurasian lineage, indicating an interregional transmission of the H2 gene. Characterization of HA with a monoclonal antibody panel revealed that the antigenicity of the Delaware strains differed from the other avian strains analysed. The data emphasizes the importance of avian influenza surveillance.  (+info)

(5/1236) Characterization of the influenza A virus gene pool in avian species in southern China: was H6N1 a derivative or a precursor of H5N1?

In 1997, an H5N1 influenza virus outbreak occurred in chickens in Hong Kong, and the virus was transmitted directly to humans. Because there is limited information about the avian influenza virus reservoir in that region, we genetically characterized virus strains isolated in Hong Kong during the 1997 outbreak. We sequenced the gene segments of a heterogeneous group of viruses of seven different serotypes (H3N8, H4N8, H6N1, H6N9, H11N1, H11N9, and H11N8) isolated from various bird species. The phylogenetic relationships divided these viruses into several subgroups. An H6N1 virus isolated from teal (A/teal/Hong Kong/W312/97 [H6N1]) showed very high (>98%) nucleotide homology to the human influenza virus A/Hong Kong/156/97 (H5N1) in the six internal genes. The N1 neuraminidase sequence showed 97% nucleotide homology to that of the human H5N1 virus, and the N1 protein of both viruses had the same 19-amino-acid deletion in the stalk region. The deduced hemagglutinin amino acid sequence of the H6N1 virus was most similar to that of A/shearwater/Australia/1/72 (H6N5). The H6N1 virus is the first known isolate with seven H5N1-like segments and may have been the donor of the neuraminidase and the internal genes of the H5N1 viruses. The high homology between the internal genes of H9N2, H6N1, and the H5N1 isolates indicates that these subtypes are able to exchange their internal genes and are therefore a potential source of new pathogenic influenza virus strains. Our analysis suggests that surveillance for influenza A viruses should be conducted for wild aquatic birds as well as for poultry, pigs, and humans and that H6 isolates should be further characterized.  (+info)

(6/1236) Continued circulation in China of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses encoding the hemagglutinin gene associated with the 1997 H5N1 outbreak in poultry and humans.

Since the outbreak in humans of an H5N1 avian influenza virus in Hong Kong in 1997, poultry entering the live-bird markets of Hong Kong have been closely monitored for infection with avian influenza. In March 1999, this monitoring system detected geese that were serologically positive for H5N1 avian influenza virus, but the birds were marketed before they could be sampled for virus. However, viral isolates were obtained by swabbing the cages that housed the geese. These samples, known collectively as A/Environment/Hong Kong/437/99 (A/Env/HK/437/99), contained four viral isolates, which were compared to the 1997 H5N1 Hong Kong isolates. Analysis of A/Env/HK/437/99 viruses revealed that the four isolates are nearly identical genetically and are most closely related to A/Goose/Guangdong/1/96. These isolates and the 1997 H5N1 Hong Kong viruses encode common hemagglutinin (H5) genes that have identical hemagglutinin cleavage sites. Thus, the pathogenicity of the A/Env/HK/437/99 viruses was compared in chickens and in mice to evaluate the potential for disease outbreaks in poultry and humans. The A/Env/HK/437/99 isolates were highly pathogenic in chickens but caused a longer mean death time and had altered cell tropism compared to A/Hong Kong/156/97 (A/HK/156/97). Like A/HK/156/97, the A/Env/HK/437/99 viruses replicated in mice and remained localized to the respiratory tract. However, the A/Env/HK/437/99 isolates caused only mild pathological lesions in these tissues and no clinical signs of disease or death. As a measure of the immune response to these viruses, transforming growth factor beta levels were determined in the serum of infected mice and showed elevated levels for the A/Env/HK/437/99 viruses compared to the A/HK/156/97 viruses. This study is the first to characterize the A/Env/HK/437/99 viruses in both avian and mammalian species, evaluating the H5 gene from the 1997 Hong Kong H5N1 isolates in a different genetic background. Our findings reveal that at least one of the avian influenza virus genes encoded by the 1997 H5N1 Hong Kong viruses continues to circulate in mainland China and that this gene is important for pathogenesis in chickens but is not the sole determinant of pathogenicity in mice. There is evidence that H9N2 viruses, which have internal genes in common with the 1997 H5N1 Hong Kong isolates, are still circulating in Hong Kong and China as well, providing a heterogeneous gene pool for viral reassortment. The implications of these findings for the potential for human disease are discussed.  (+info)

(7/1236) The susceptibility of culture cells to avian influenza viruses.

The susceptibilities of culture cells to twelve avian influenza virus strains were determined with ten established cell lines including MDCK and ESK cells and three primary culture cells. The established cell lines derived from embryonic swine kidney (ESK) and chicken kidney (CK) primary culture cells were more sensitive to the avian influenza viruses than the other eleven cells. The ESK cell had a particularly higher infective titer than the MDCK cell with and without trypsin supplement in culture medium, and dispersion of the infective titers was narrower than that of the MDCK cell. The ESK cell is a suitable candidate for routine work on avian influenza viruses in laboratories.  (+info)

(8/1236) Production and evaluation criteria of specific monoclonal antibodies to the hemagglutinin of the H7N2 subtype of avian influenza virus.

To enhance the rapidity in diagnosing the spread of avian influenza virus (AIV) in chicken layer flocks, studies were initiated to develop more sensitive and specific immunological and molecular methods for the detection of AIV. In this study, the purification of the hemagglutinin protein (H) from field isolates of H7N2, the production of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs), and their evaluation as diagnostic reagents are reported. Hybridomas were generated by fusion of SP2/0-Ag14 myelomas and spleen cells from immunized mice. Hybridomas secreting antibodies specific for the H protein were assayed by an ELISA and cloned using limiting dilution. The MAbs produced were characterized by hemagglutination inhibition (HI), immunohistochemistry (IHC), indirect fluorescent antibody assay (IFA), Western blots, and IFA flow cytometry using various AIV subtypes (i.e., H4N2, H5N3, H7N2). Of the various MAbs assayed, 6 had consistent and reproducible results in each of the assays used. The results obtained in this investigation enhanced the usage of the MAbs to viral H protein in the surveillance of AIV in chickens.  (+info)