Emergence of clade novel reassortant H5N1 High Pathogenicity avian influenza virus in South Korea during late 2021

High pathogenicity H5N1 avian influenza viruses pose a threat to both animal and human health worldwide. In late 2020, outbreaks of H5 high pathogenicity avian influenza viruses belonging to clade emerged in Europe, following on from outbreaks in East Asia in earlier years. However, very recent studies show that clade H5N1, rather than H5N8, has become predominant in wild birds and has infected poultry in several countries. In this study, we describe isolation of a novel H5N1 virus from a captured mandarin duck in South Korea, and another H5N1 virus from a quail farm. We performed genetic analysis of these two viruses to identify their origin and to determine their relationship with the clade H5N1 viruses currently circulating in Europe. Based on our results, it is presumed that the novel H5N1 virus isolated in Korea originated from an unknown reassortant between clade H5N8 viruses circulating from 2020 and other Eurasian viruses, with additional reassortment of genes and point mutations that discriminate them from the recently reported H5N1 virus in Europe.