Survey of low pathogenic avian influenza viruses in live poultry markets in Guangxi Province, Southern China, 2016-2019

Low pathogenic avian influenza viruses (LPAIVs) have been widespread in poultry and wild birds throughout the world for many decades. LPAIV infections are usually asymptomatic or cause subclinical symptoms. However, the genetic reassortment of LPAIVs may generate novel viruses with increased virulence and cross-species transmission, posing potential risks to public health. To evaluate the epidemic potential and infection landscape of LPAIVs in Guangxi Province, China, we collected and analyzed throat and cloacal swab samples from chickens, ducks and geese from the live poultry markets on a regular basis from 2016 to 2019. Among the 7,567 samples, 974 (12.87%) were LPAIVs-positive, with 890 single and 84 mixed infections. Higher yearly isolation rates were observed in 2017 and 2018. Additionally, geese had the highest isolation rate, followed by ducks and chickens. Seasonally, spring had the highest isolation rate. Subtype H3, H4, H6 and H9 viruses were detected over prolonged periods, while H1 and H11 viruses were detected transiently. The predominant subtypes in chickens, ducks and geese were H9, H3, and H6, respectively. The 84 mixed infection samples contained 22 combinations. Most mixed infections involved two subtypes, with H3 + H4 as the most common combination. Our study provides important epidemiological data regarding the isolation rates, distributions of prevalent subtypes and mixed infections of LPAIVs. These results will improve our knowledge and ability to control epidemics, guide disease management strategies and provide early awareness of newly emerged AIV reassortants with pandemic potential.