Molecular characterization of avian influenza H5N1 virus in Egypt and the emergence of a novel endemic subclade
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Clade 2.2 highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses have been in continuous circulation in Egyptian poultry since 2006. Their persistence caused significant genetic drift that led to the reclassification of these viruses into subclades 2.2.1 and 18.104.22.168. Here, we conducted full-genome sequence and phylogenetic analyses of 45 H5N1 isolated during 2006-2013 through systematic surveillance in Egypt, and 53 viruses that were sequenced previously and available in the public domain. Results indicated that H5N1 viruses in Egypt continue to evolve and a new distinct cluster has emerged. Mutations affecting viral virulence, pathogenicity, transmission, receptor-binding preference and drug resistance were studied. In light of our findings that H5N1 in Egypt continues to evolve, surveillance and molecular studies need to be sustained.
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