Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus circulates among a variety of free-ranging wild birds and continually poses a threat to animal and human health. During the winter of 2010–2011, we surveyed Korean wild bird habitats. From 728 fresh fecal samples, 14 HPAI H5N1 viruses were identified. The isolates phylogenetically clustered with other recently isolated clade 2.3.2 HPAI H5N1 viruses isolated from wild birds in Mongolia. All HPAI-positive fecal samples were analyzed by DNA barcoding for host-species identification. Twelve of the 14 HPAI-positive samples were typed as Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata). The high incidence of HPAI subtype H5N1 viruses in wild Mandarin Duck droppings is a novel finding and underscores the need for enhanced avian influenza virus surveillance in wild Mandarin Ducks. Further investigation of the susceptibility of Mandarin Ducks to HPAI H5N1 clade 2.3.2 virus would aid the understanding of HPAI ecology and epidemiology in wild birds.
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Vol. 47 • No. 4