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J Gen Virol. 2012 Mar;93(Pt 3):541-50. doi: 10.1099/vir.0.037572-0. Epub 2011 Nov 23.

Reintroduction of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus by migratory water birds, causing poultry outbreaks in the 2010-2011 winter season in Japan.

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  • 1Laboratory of Microbiology, Department of Disease Control, Graduate School of Veterinary Medicine, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0818, Japan.


H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) was reintroduced and caused outbreaks in chickens in the 2010-2011 winter season in Japan, which had been free from highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) since 2007 when HPAI outbreaks occurred and were controlled. On 14 October 2010 at Lake Ohnuma, Wakkanai, the northernmost part of Hokkaido, Japan, H5N1 HPAIVs were isolated from faecal samples of ducks flying from their nesting lakes in Siberia. Since then, in Japan, H5N1 HPAIVs have been isolated from 63 wild birds in 17 prefectures and caused HPAI outbreaks in 24 chicken farms in nine prefectures by the end of March in 2011. Each of these isolates was genetically closely related to the HPAIV isolates at Lake Ohnuma, and those in China, Mongolia, Russia and Korea, belonging to genetic clade In addition, these isolates were genetically classified into three groups, suggesting that the viruses were transmitted by migratory water birds through at least three different routes from their northern territory to Japan. These isolates were antigenic variants, which is consistent with selection in poultry under the immunological pressure induced by vaccination. To prevent the perpetuation of viruses in the lakes where water birds nest in summer in Siberia, prompt eradication of HPAIVs in poultry is urgently needed in Asian countries where HPAI has not been controlled.

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