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Virology. 2002 Jan 5;292(1):16-23.

H5N1 influenza viruses isolated from geese in Southeastern China: evidence for genetic reassortment and interspecies transmission to ducks.

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Department of Microbiology, The University of Hong Kong, University Pathology Building, Hong Kong SAR, People's Republic of China.


The H5N1 viruses (H5N1/97) associated with the "bird-flu" incident in the Hong Kong SAR have not been isolated since the slaughter of poultry in December 1997 brought that outbreak to an end. Recent evidence points to this virus as having arisen through a reassortment of a number of precursor avian viruses and a virus related to Goose/Guangdong/1/96 (H5N1) (Gs/Gd/96) was the likely donor of the H5 hemagglutinin. We characterize the Goose/Guangdong/1/96-like viruses isolated from geese and ducks imported into Hong Kong in the year 2000. Antigenically and genetically, these recent H5N1 viruses fall into two groups, one mainly associated with geese, and the other, recently transmitted to ducks. Further, viruses isolated from a goose and a duck in December 2000 have acquired NS, PA, M, and PB2 genes from the aquatic avian influenza gene pool through reassortment. For pandemic preparedness, it is important to monitor whether these reassortant viruses have the capacity for interspecies transmission to terrestrial poultry or mammals.

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