Isolation and pathotyping of H9N2 avian influenza viruses in Indian poultry
A total of 1246 faecal and tissue samples collected/received from 119 farms located in various states of India were processed for isolation of avian influenza viruses (AIV) during 2003-2004 as part of a program to monitor AIV infection in Indian poultry population. Avian influenza virus was isolated for the first time in India from poultry farms with history of drop in egg production, respiratory illness and increased mortality in Haryana state. A total of 29 H9N2 AIV isolates were obtained from the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Orissa and Union Territory Delhi. Subtyping was done by HI, RT-PCR and neuraminidase inhibition assay. Pathotyping of six representative isolates by intravenous pathogenicity index (0.0/3.0) in 6-8 weeks old chicken, trypsin dependency in cell culture and HA cleavage site analysis (335RSSR*GLF341) confirmed that these isolates are low pathogenic. Nucleotide sequence analysis of the HA gene showed that the Indian isolates are very closely related (95.0-99.6%) and shared a homology of 92-96% with H9N2 isolates from Germany and Asian regions other than that of mainland China. Deduced amino acid sequences showed the presence of L226 (234 in H9 numbering) which indicates a preference to binding of alpha (2-6) sialic acid receptors. Two of the six isolates had 7 glycosylation sites in the HA1 cleaved protein and the remaining four had 5 sites. Phylogenetic analysis showed that they share a common ancestor Qa/HK/G1/97 isolate which had contributed internal genes of H5N1 virus circulating in Vietnam. Further characterization of Indian H9N2 isolates is required to understand their nature and evolution.
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