Co-subsistence of avian influenza virus subtypes of low and high pathogenicity in Bangladesh: Challenges for diagnosis, risk assessment and control
Endemic co-circulation of potentially zoonotic avian influenza viruses (AIV) of subtypes H5N1 and H9N2 (G1 lineage) in poultry in Bangladesh accelerated diversifying evolution. Two clinical samples from poultry obtained in 2016 yielded five different subtypes (highly pathogenic [HP] H5N1, HP H5N2, HP H7N1, HP H7N2, H9N2) and eight genotypes of AIV by plaque purification. H5 sequences grouped with clade 18.104.22.168a viruses while N1 was related to an older, preceding clade, 2.2.2. The internal genome segments of the plaque-purified viruses originated from clade 2.2.2 of H5N1 or from G1/H9N2 viruses. H9 and N2 segments clustered with contemporary H9N2 strains. In addition, HP H7 sequences were detected for the first time in samples and linked to Pakistani HP H7N3 viruses of 2003. The unexpected findings of mixtures of reassorted HP H5N1 and G1-like H9N2 viruses, which carry genome segments of older clades in association with the detection of HP H7 HA segments calls for confirmation of these results by targeted surveillance in the area of origin of the investigated samples. Hidden niches and obscured transmission pathways may exist that retain or re-introduce genome segments of older viruses or reassortants thereof which causes additional challenges for diagnosis, risk assessment and disease control.