Isolation and characterization of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus subtype H5N1 from donkeys

Journal of Biomedical Science 2010, 17:25doi:10.1186/1423-0127-17-25
Published: 14 April 2010
Abstract (provisional)

Background

The highly pathogenic H5N1 is a major avian pathogen that crosses species barriers and seriously affects humans as well as some mammals. It mutates in an intensified manner and is considered a potential candidate for the possible next pandemic with all the catastrophic consequences.
Methods

Nasal swabs were collected from donkeys suffered from respiratory distress. The virus was isolated from the pooled nasal swabs in specific pathogen free embryonated chicken eggs (SPF-ECE). Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and sequencing of both haemagglutingin and neuraminidase were performed. H5 seroconversion was screened using haemagglutination inhibition (HI) assay on 105 donkey serum samples.
Results

We demonstrated that H5N1 jumped from poultry to another mammalian host; donkeys. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the virus clustered within the lineage of H5N1 from Egypt, closely related to 2009 isolates. It harboured few genetic changes compared to the closely related viruses from avian and humans. The neuraminidase lacks oseltamivir resistant mutations. Interestingly, HI screening for antibodies to H5 haemagglutinins in donkeys revealed high exposure rate.

Conclusions

These findings extend the host range of the H5N1 influenza virus, possess implications for influenza virus epidemiology and highlight the need for the systematic surveillance of H5N1 in animals in the vicinity of backyard poultry units especially in endemic areas.

http://www.jbiomedsci.com/content/17/1/25

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