J Vet Sci.  2017 Aug;18(S1):269-280. 10.4142/jvs.2017.18.S1.269.

Evolution, global spread, and pathogenicity of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5Nx clade

  • 1U.S. National Poultry Research Center, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Athens, GA 30605, USA. David.Swayne@ars.usda.gov
  • 2Avian Diseases Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, Konkuk University, Seoul 05029, Korea.


Novel subtypes of Asian-origin (Goose/Guangdong lineage) H5 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses belonging to clade 2.3.4, such as H5N2, H5N5, H5N6, and H5N8, have been identified in China since 2008 and have since evolved into four genetically distinct clade groups (A-D). Since 2014, HPAI clade viruses have spread rapidly via migratory wild aquatic birds and have evolved through reassortment with prevailing local low pathogenicity avian influenza viruses. Group A H5N8 viruses and its reassortant viruses caused outbreaks in wide geographic regions (Asia, Europe, and North America) during 2014-2015. Novel reassortant Group B H5N8 viruses caused outbreaks in Asia, Europe, and Africa during 2016-2017. Novel reassortant Group C H5N6 viruses caused outbreaks in Korea and Japan during the 2016-2017 winter season. Group D H5N6 viruses caused outbreaks in China and Vietnam. A wide range of avian species, including wild and domestic waterfowl, domestic poultry, and even zoo birds, seem to be permissive for infection by and/or transmission of clade HPAI viruses. Further, compared to previous H5N1 HPAI viruses, these reassortant viruses show altered pathogenicity in birds. In this review, we discuss the evolution, global spread, and pathogenicity of H5 clade HPAI viruses.


epidemiology; influenza in birds; poultry; transmission; virulence
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