Marandino A, Tomás G, Panzera Y, Leizagoyen C, Pér. Spreading of the High-Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (H5N1) Virus of Clade 126.96.36.199b into Uruguay. Viruses. 2023 Sep 11;15(9):1906
Objectives: We analyzed the complete genomes of influenza viruses obtained from wild birds and backyard poultry in Uruguay between February and May 2023.
Methods: Twelve complete genomes were obtained in 2023 from cloacal swabs using Illumina sequencing. Genomes were phylogenetically analyzed with regional and global strains.
Findings: The identified strains have multiple basic amino acids at the hemagglutinin cleavage sites, which is typical for highly pathogenic strains. The Uruguayan viruses belonged to hemagglutinin clade 188.8.131.52b of the H5N1 subtype. A reassortment in North America has resulted in some segments of South American strains being of Eurasian or North American origins. The Uruguayan viruses shared a common ancestor with South American strains from Argentina and Chile. The influenza viruses displayed a spatiotemporal divergence pattern rather than being host-specific.
Main conclusions: The arrival of the 184.108.40.206b clade in Uruguay may have been mediated by birds that acquired the virus from Argentine and Chilean waterfowl migrating in the Pacific Flyway.
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