In early 2007, H2N3 influenza virus was isolated from a duck and a chicken in two separate poultry flocks in Ohio. Since the same subtype influenza virus with hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N) genes of avian lineage was also identified in a swine herd in Missouri in 2006, the objective of this study was to characterize and compare the genetic, antigenic, and biologic properties of the avian and swine isolates. Avian isolates were low pathogenic by in vivo chicken pathogenicity testing. Sequencing and phylogenetic analyses revealed that all genes of the avian isolates were comprised of avian lineages, whereas the swine isolates contained contemporary swine internal gene segments, demonstrating that the avian H2N3 viruses were not directly derived from the swine virus. Sequence comparisons for the H and N genes demonstrated that the avian isolates were similar but not identical to the swine isolates. Accordingly, the avian and swine isolates were also antigenically related as determined by hemagglutination-inhibition (HI) and virus neutralization assays, suggesting that both avian and swine isolates originated from the same group of H2N3 avian influenza viruses. Although serological surveys using the HI assay on poultry flocks and swine herds in Ohio did not reveal further spread of H2 virus from the index flocks, surveillance is important to ensure the virus is not reintroduced to domestic swine or poultry. Contemporary H2N3 avian influenza viruses appear to be easily adaptable to unnatural hosts such as poultry and swine, raising concern regarding the potential for interspecies transmission of avian viruses to humans.
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Vol. 55 • No. 4