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H9N2 low pathogenic avian influenza in Pakistan (2012-2015)

Dong-Hun Lee, David E. Swayne, Poonam Sharma, Shafqat Fatima Rehmani, Abdul Wajid, David L. Suarez, Claudio Afonso
Veterinary record open 2016 v.3 no.1 pp. e000171
Influenza A virus, avian influenza, genes, genotype, hemagglutinins, host specificity, mammals, monitoring, new geographic records, poultry, public health, risk, viruses, zoonoses, Middle East, Pakistan
Significant economic losses from deaths and decreased egg production have resulted from H9N2 low pathogenic avian influenza virus (LPAIV) infections in poultry across North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The H9N2 LPAIVs have been endemic in Pakistani poultry since 1996, but no new viruses have been reported since 2010. Because novel genotypes of Pakistani H9N2 contain mammalian host-specific markers, recent surveillance is essential to better understand any continuing public health risk. Here the authors report on four new H9N2 LPAIVs, three from 2015 and one from 2012. All of the viruses tested in this study belonged to Middle East B genetic group of G1 lineage and had PAKSSR/G motif at the haemagglutinin cleavage site. The mammalian hostspecific markers at position 226 in the haemagglutinin receptor-binding site and internal genes suggest that Pakistan H9N2 viruses are still potentially infectious for mammals. Continued active surveillance in poultry and mammals is needed to monitor the spread and understand the potential for zoonotic infection by these H9N2 LPAIVs.