Emergence of a novel reassortant avian influenza virus (H10N3) in Eastern China

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Biological features of the novel reassorted H10N3 virus isolated from chickens in eastern China. 1) A novel reassortment H10N3 isolate bound to both avian (SAα-2,3-Gal) and human (SAα-2,6-Gal) receptors. 2) The novel reassortment H10N3 AIV was highly pathogenic in mice. 3) The novel reassorted H10N3 isolate was transmitted between guinea pigs via direct contact and respiratory droplets. Credit: Science China Press

The first known H10 avian influenza virus (AIV) was isolated from German chicken in 1949 and experienced multiple reassortment events during decades of circulation. Many H10 subtypes AIV, including H10N1, H10N2, H10N3, H10N6, H10N7, H10N8, and H10N9, are widely distributed in poultry and wild birds. The H10 subtype AIV is widespread not only in poultry, but also in mammals such as mink, pigs and seals.

Infection of H10 subtype AIV from birds to humans is rare but outbreaks. First reported human infection with H10 subtype influenza virus Subsequent surveillance occasionally detected cross-species transmission of subtype H10 influenza virus. Notably, three patients in China were infected with the H10N8 subtype influenza virus in 2013, and two of the infected patients were reported to have died. The National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China confirmed the first case of human infection with H10N3 subtype AIV in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province in April 2021.

Epidemiological studies did not find that patients had a clear history of exposure to the live poultry market. In addition, the source of infection could not be identified because the H10N3 virus of the same genotype was not locally isolated. This is a major challenge to prevent the recurrence of human infection with H10N3.

“Tracking the source of the human-derived H10N3 virus and systematically analyzing its biological properties is a prerequisite for preventing H10N3 from re-infecting humans.” Co-author of this work. Said Associate Professor Wang Xiaoquan.

During a bird flu surveillance activity at the Live Bird Market (LBM) in eastern China from 2019 to 2021, the research team isolated several bird H10N3 viruses, which are human-derived H10N3 strains. Was very homologous. In this study, two bird-derived H10N3 viruses were first isolated from Jiangsu Province in December 2019. This indicates that this type of virus circulates quietly in poultry for at least 17 months before it causes human infection.

Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the HA and NA sequences belonging to the Eurasian lineage are derived from H10N8 and H7N3, respectively, and are prevalent in Zhejiang Province. On the other hand, all the internal genes of H10N3 were derived from H9N2AIV. Interestingly, H9N2 AIV has recently become dominant in LBM in China, providing internal genes for human isolates such as H7N9, H10N8, and H5N6.

The first species barrier is host cell attachment. AIV preferentially binds to SAα-2,3-Gal, but viruses adapted to humans have been shown to prefer SAα-2,6-Gal. These H10N3 strains showed affinity for both avian and human receptors. Although AIV can infect new species, most AIVs are less pathogenic in mice without long-term adaptation in mammals. In this study, two novel reassortment H10N3 isolates were highly pathogenic in mice and were efficiently replicated in multiple organs without prior indication. AIV acquires the power of a continuously variable transmission between humans, which is the key to the pandemic. This study showed that an infected guinea pig model releases a high viral load through the respiratory tract and can infect the virus via both direct contact and aerosols.

This finding indicates that the novel reassorted H10N3 isolate showed comparable binding affinity for both avian and human receptors and lethal infections in mice. In addition, the guinea pig model shows efficient transmission via both direct contact and aerosolization, suggesting that the novel reassortment H10N3 subtype AIV poses a high public health threat.

“LPAIV usually does not cause obvious symptoms in poultry, so human outbreaks can occur if poultry infections are overlooked. Therefore, continuous monitoring of the emergence and evolution of new AIVs in poultry. We need to assess potential threats to public health, “said Professor Xiufan Liu, the corresponding author of the work.

The study was published in Science China Life Science..


First Human Case of H10N3 Avian Influenza: What We Know


For more information:
Kaituo Liu et al, emergence of a new reassorted avian influenza virus (H10N3) in eastern China with high pathogenicity to mammals and transmission of respiratory droplets, Science China Life Science (2021). DOI: 10.1007 / s11427-020-1981-5

Quote: The emergence of a newly reassorted avian influenza virus (H10N3) in eastern China (October 21, 2021) is from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-10-emergence-reassortant-avian-influenza-virus. Acquired on October 21, 2021. html

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