Continuing evolution of equine influenza virus in Central Asia, 2007-2012
Equine influenza (EI) continues to be an important respiratory pathogen of horses worldwide. Since 2007 several outbreaks of EI have occurred in Central Asian countries, including Kazakhstan, western Mongolia, India and western China. Phylogenetic analysis showed that two H3N8 equine influenza virus (EIV) isolates from Kazakhstan, A/equine/Almaty/26/2007 and A/equine/South Kazakhstan/236/12, were related to Florida sublineage 2, with high similarity to EIVs circulating in the same period in neighbouring countries. New outbreaks of EI during 2011 and 2012 in Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries were caused by viruses of the same lineage. Genetic characterization of the viruses showed formation of a small EIV cluster with specific genetic signatures and continued evolution of this lineage in Central Asia between 2007 and 2012. The main genetic changes were observed in hemagglutinin gene without any antigenic drift. Although no vaccination policy was carried out in Kazakhstan, application of Florida clade 2–based vaccines is recommended.