Establishment of multiple sublineages of H5N1 influenza virus in Asia: implications for pandemic control.Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Feb 21; 103(8):2845-50.PN
Preparedness for a possible influenza pandemic caused by highly pathogenic avian influenza A subtype H5N1 has become a global priority. The spread of the virus to Europe and continued human infection in Southeast Asia have heightened pandemic concern. It remains unknown from where the pandemic strain may emerge; current attention is directed at Vietnam, Thailand, and, more recently, Indonesia and China. Here, we report that genetically and antigenically distinct sublineages of H5N1 virus have become established in poultry in different geographical regions of Southeast Asia, indicating the long-term endemicity of the virus, and the isolation of H5N1 virus from apparently healthy migratory birds in southern China. Our data show that H5N1 influenza virus, has continued to spread from its established source in southern China to other regions through transport of poultry and bird migration. The identification of regionally distinct sublineages contributes to the understanding of the mechanism for the perpetuation and spread of H5N1, providing information that is directly relevant to control of the source of infection in poultry. It points to the necessity of surveillance that is geographically broader than previously supposed and that includes H5N1 viruses of greater genetic and antigenic diversity.