Domestic poultry act as a reservoir for persistent H5N1 endemicity in Vietnam, and the circulation of poultry flocks across farms and to market is thought to drive the spatial movement and evolution of avian influenza viruses. Using a dataset of complete or nearly full genomic sequences from highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza viruses collected in domestic poultry in Vietnam from 2003 to 2007, we explore potential differences in genetic characteristics according to species of isolation and the spatiotemporal characteristics of the viruses. Clustering algorithms and ANOVA indicate that H5N1 viruses in Vietnam show differences in the amount of genetic change that chicken viruses experience as compared to duck viruses, with duck viruses showing higher rates of molecular evolution on all eight of influenza's gene segments. There also exist distinct patterns of genetic differentiation according to the year in which they were isolated. These findings suggest that genetic evolution of avian influenza viruses is continuous through time but could also be mediated by the species in which the viruses occur, information that has implications for prevention efforts.
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Vol. 55 • No. 4