SUMMARY. Avian influenza H5N1 viruses pose a significant threat to human health because of their ability to infect humans directly. In the paper, three highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza viruses were isolated from three species of migratory birds in Qinghai Province of China in 2006. The analysis of the genome sequences indicated that the three isolates shared high homology with each other (94% to 99%). Three isolates shared a common ancestor and were closest to strains isolated from Qinghai and Siberia in 2005, but distinct from poultry viruses found in Southeast Asia. In experimental infection, all three viruses were highly pathogenic to chickens and mice. The results suggest that highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 viruses still exist in the migratory birds and could spread to other regions with wild bird migration.
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Vol. 51 • No. 2