In 2011, avian influenza surveillance at the Bangladesh live bird markets (LBMs) showed complete replacement of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus of clade 2.2.2 (Qinghai-like H5N1 lineage) by the HPAI H5N1 clade 18.104.22.168. This clade, which continues to circulate in Bangladesh and neighboring countries, is an intra-and interclade reassortant; its HA, polymerase basic 1 (PB1), polymerase (PA), and nonstructural (NS) genes come from subclade 22.214.171.124a; the polymerase basic 2 (PB2) comes from subclade 126.96.36.199c; and the NA, nucleocapsid protein (NP), and matrix (M) gene from clade 188.8.131.52. The H9N2 influenza viruses cocirculating in the Bangladesh LBMs are also reassortants, possessing five genes (NS, M, NP, PA, and PB1) from an HPAI H7N3 virus previously isolated in Pakistan. Despite frequent coinfection of chickens and ducks, reassortment between these H5N1 and H9N2 viruses has been rare. However, all such reassortants detected in 2011 through 2013 have carried seven genes from the local HPAI H5N1 lineage and the PB1 gene from the Bangladeshi H9N2 clade G1 Mideast, itself derived from HPAI H7N3 virus. Although the live birds we sampled in Bangladesh showed no clinical signs of morbidity, the emergence of this reassortant HPAI H5N1 lineage further complicates endemic circulation of H5N1 viruses in Bangladesh, posing a threat to both poultry and humans.
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Vol. 60 • No. 1s