Shifting Clade Distribution, Reassortment, and Emergence of New Subtypes of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A(H5) Viruses Collected from Vietnamese Poultry from 2012 to 2015
Nguyen DT., Jang Y., Nguyen TD., Jones J., Shepard SS., Yang H., Gerloff N., Fabrizio T., Nguyen LV., Inui K., Yang G., Creanga A., Wang L., Mai DT., Thor S., Stevens J., To TL., Wentworth DE., Nguyen T., Pham DV., Bryant JE., Davis CT.
<jats:title>ABSTRACT</jats:title> <jats:p>Whole-genome sequences of representative highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5) viruses from Vietnam were generated, comprising samples from poultry outbreaks and active market surveillance collected from January 2012 to August 2015. Six hemagglutinin gene clades were characterized. Clade 1.1.2 was predominant in southern Mekong provinces throughout 2012 and 2013 but gradually disappeared and was not detected after April 2014. Clade 220.127.116.11c viruses spread rapidly during 2012 and were detected in the south and center of the country. A number of clade 1.1.2 and 18.104.22.168c interclade reassortant viruses were detected with different combinations of internal genes derived from 22.214.171.124a and 126.96.36.199b viruses, indicating extensive cocirculation. Although reassortment generated genetic diversity at the genotype level, there was relatively little genetic drift within the individual gene segments, suggesting genetic stasis over recent years. Antigenically, clade 1.1.2, 188.8.131.52a, 184.108.40.206b, and 220.127.116.11c viruses remained related to earlier viruses and WHO-recommended prepandemic vaccine strains representing these clades. Clade 7.2 viruses, although detected in only low numbers, were the exception, as indicated by introduction of a genetically and antigenically diverse strain in 2013. Clade 18.104.22.168 viruses (H5N1 and H5N6) were likely introduced in April 2014 and appeared to gain dominance across northern and central regions. Antigenic analyses of clade 22.214.171.124 viruses compared to existing clade 2.3.4 candidate vaccine viruses (CVV) indicated the need for an updated vaccine virus. A/Sichuan/26221/2014 (H5N6) virus was developed, and ferret antisera generated against this virus were demonstrated to inhibit some but not all clade 126.96.36.199 viruses, suggesting consideration of alternative clade 188.8.131.52 CVVs.</jats:p> <jats:p> <jats:bold>IMPORTANCE</jats:bold> Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5) viruses have circulated continuously in Vietnam since 2003, resulting in hundreds of poultry outbreaks and sporadic human infections. Despite a significant reduction in the number of human infections in recent years, poultry outbreaks continue to occur and the virus continues to diversify. Vaccination of poultry has been used as a means to control the spread and impact of the virus, but due to the diversity and changing distribution of antigenically distinct viruses, the utility of vaccines in the face of mismatched circulating strains remains questionable. This study assessed the putative amino acid changes in viruses leading to antigenic variability, underscoring the complexity of vaccine selection for both veterinary and public health purposes. Given the overlapping geographic distributions of multiple, antigenically distinct clades of HPAI A(H5) viruses in Vietnam, the vaccine efficacy of bivalent poultry vaccine formulations should be tested in the future. </jats:p>