The first highly pathogenic (HP) influenza A/H7N9 was reported in Guangdong in January 2017. To investigate the emergence and spread of HP A/H7N9 in Guangdong province, we sequenced 297 viruses (58 HP A/H7N9, 19 low pathogenic (LP) A/ H7N9, and 220 A/H9N2) during 2016-2017. Our analysis showed that during the fifth wave, three A/H7N9 lineages were cocirculating in Guangdong: The local LP Pearl River Delta (PRD) lineage (13%), the newly imported LP Yangtze River Delta (YRD) lineage (23%), and the HP YRD lineage (64%). Previously circulating YRD-lineage LP during the third wave evolved to the YRD-lineage HP A/H7N9 in Guangdong. All YRD-lineage LP detected during the fifth wave most likely originated from newly imported viruses into Guangdong. Genotype comparison of HP A/H7N9 suggests limited outward spread of HP A/ H7N9 to other provinces. The distribution of HP A/H7N9 cleavage site variants on live poultry markets differed from that found in humans, suggesting a V1-Type cleavage site may facilitate human infections.

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Virus Evolution
Department of Virology

Bai, R. (Ru), Sikkema, R.S. (Reina S.), Oude Munnink, B. B., Li, C.R. (Cong Rong), Wu, J. (Jie), Zou, L., … Ke, C.-W. (Chang-Wen). (2020). Exploring utility of genomic epidemiology to trace origins of highly pathogenic influenza A/H7N9 in Guangdong. Virus Evolution, 6(2). doi:10.1093/ve/veaa097