Genetic and antigenic evolution of H9N2 avian influenza viruses circulating in Egypt between 2011 and 2013
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© 2014, Springer-Verlag Wien. Avian influenza virus subtype H9N2 has been circulating in the Middle East since the 1990s. For uncertain reasons, H9N2 was not detected in Egyptian farms until the end of 2010. Circulation of H9N2 viruses in Egyptian poultry in the presence of the enzootic highly pathogenic H5N1 subtype adds a huge risk factor to the Egyptian poultry industry. In this study, 22 H9N2 viruses collected from 2011 to 2013 in Egypt were isolated and sequenced. The genomic signatures and protein sequences of these isolates were analyzed. Multiple mammalian-host-associated mutations were detected that favor transmission from avian to mammalian hosts. Other mutations related to virulence were also identified. Phylogenetic data showed that Egyptian H9N2 viruses were closely related to viruses isolated from neighboring Middle Eastern countries, and their HA gene resembled those of viruses of the G1-like lineage. No reassortment was detected with H5N1 subtypes. Serological analysis of H9N2 virus revealed antigenic conservation among Egyptian isolates. Accordingly, continuous surveillance that results in genetic and antigenic characterization of H9N2 in Egypt is warranted.
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