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Article

Evolutionary Dynamics of H5 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Viruses (Clade 2.3.4.4B) Circulating in Bulgaria in 2019–2021

1
EU/OIE/National Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease, FAO Reference Centre for Animal Influenza and Newcastle Disease, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie, 35020 Legnaro, Italy
2
National Reference Laboratory of Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease, National Diagnostic and Research Veterinary Medical Institute, 1231 Sofia, Bulgaria
3
OIE/FAO International Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza, Swine Influenza and Newcastle Disease Virus, Animal and Plant Health Agency-Weybridge, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB, UK
4
Department of Pathobiology and Population Sciences, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA, UK
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Subir Sarker
Viruses 2021, 13(10), 2086; https://doi.org/10.3390/v13102086
Received: 20 August 2021 / Revised: 22 September 2021 / Accepted: 11 October 2021 / Published: 16 October 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Drivers of Evolution of Animal RNA Viruses)
The first detection of a Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N8 virus in Bulgaria dates back to December 2016. Since then, many outbreaks caused by HPAI H5 viruses from clade 2.3.4.4B have been reported in both domestic and wild birds in different regions of the country. In this study, we characterized the complete genome of sixteen H5 viruses collected in Bulgaria between 2019 and 2021. Phylogenetic analyses revealed a persistent circulation of the H5N8 strain for four consecutive years (December 2016–June 2020) and the emergence in 2020 of a novel reassortant H5N2 subtype, likely in a duck farm. Estimation of the time to the most recent common ancestor indicates that this reassortment event may have occurred between May 2019 and January 2020. At the beginning of 2021, Bulgaria experienced a new virus introduction in the poultry sector, namely a HPAI H5N8 that had been circulating in Europe since October 2020. The periodical identification in domestic birds of H5 viruses related to the 2016 epidemic as well as a reassortant strain might indicate undetected circulation of the virus in resident wild birds or in the poultry sector. To avoid the concealed circulation and evolution of viruses, and the risk of emergence of strains with pandemic potential, the implementation of control measures is of utmost importance, particularly in duck farms where birds display no clinical signs. View Full-Text
Keywords: Bulgaria; highly pathogenic Avian Influenza; H5N2-H5N8 subtypes; genetic characterization; reassortments; duck farms Bulgaria; highly pathogenic Avian Influenza; H5N2-H5N8 subtypes; genetic characterization; reassortments; duck farms
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MDPI and ACS Style

Zecchin, B.; Goujgoulova, G.; Monne, I.; Salviato, A.; Schivo, A.; Slavcheva, I.; Pastori, A.; Brown, I.H.; Lewis, N.S.; Terregino, C.; Fusaro, A. Evolutionary Dynamics of H5 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Viruses (Clade 2.3.4.4B) Circulating in Bulgaria in 2019–2021. Viruses 2021, 13, 2086. https://doi.org/10.3390/v13102086

AMA Style

Zecchin B, Goujgoulova G, Monne I, Salviato A, Schivo A, Slavcheva I, Pastori A, Brown IH, Lewis NS, Terregino C, Fusaro A. Evolutionary Dynamics of H5 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Viruses (Clade 2.3.4.4B) Circulating in Bulgaria in 2019–2021. Viruses. 2021; 13(10):2086. https://doi.org/10.3390/v13102086

Chicago/Turabian Style

Zecchin, Bianca, Gabriela Goujgoulova, Isabella Monne, Annalisa Salviato, Alessia Schivo, Iskra Slavcheva, Ambra Pastori, Ian H. Brown, Nicola S. Lewis, Calogero Terregino, and Alice Fusaro. 2021. "Evolutionary Dynamics of H5 Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Viruses (Clade 2.3.4.4B) Circulating in Bulgaria in 2019–2021" Viruses 13, no. 10: 2086. https://doi.org/10.3390/v13102086

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