In Thailand, surveillance for the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 (HPAI-H5N1) has revealed high prevalence of the virus in quail in live-bird markets. This study monitored avian influenza viruses (AIVs) in quail farms in an area at high risk for HPAI-H5N1 over a 12-month period from 2009 to 2010. One-step real-time RT-PCR (rRT-PCR) results showed that 1.18 % of swab samples (24/2,040) were AIV positive. Among the rRT-PCR positive samples, three samples were identified as subtype H7N1. One Thai H7N1 virus designated “A/quail/Thailand/CU-J2882/2009 (H7N1)” was subjected to whole genome sequencing and genetic characterization. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the HA gene of the Thai H7N1 virus groups with those of the H7 Eurasian viruses. Interestingly, the NA gene of the virus was found to be closely related to those of the HPAI-H5N1 viruses from Vietnam and Thailand. This study constitutes the first report on AIV H7N1 in Thailand. Our results suggest the possibility of genetic reassortment between AIV-H7NX and HPAI-H5N1 in quail. The HA cleavage site of the Thai H7N1 virus contains no multiple amino acid insertions, suggesting low pathogenic characteristics for this virus.
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Acknowledgments This work was supported by grants from the Ratchadaphiseksomphot Endowment Fund of Chulalongkorn University (RES560530129) and the National Research University Project, Office of Higher Education Commission (WCU-005-HR57). We would like to thank Chulalongkorn University for funding to the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases in Animals. We would like to thank Ms. Petra Hirsch for reviewing of the manuscript.
- Avian influenza virus