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Epidemiological and molecular analysis of avian influenza A(H7N9) virus in Shanghai, China, 2013–2017

Authors Wang SJ, Liu XW, Shen X, Hua XG, Cui L

Received 8 July 2018

Accepted for publication 16 October 2018

Published 22 November 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 2411—2424

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IDR.S179517

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Sahil Khanna


Seong Jin Wang,1–3 Xue Wei Liu,1 Xiaojuan Shen,1,2 Xiu Guo Hua,1,2 Li Cui1,2

1Department of Animal Science, Shanghai Key Laboratory of Veterinary Biotechnology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, China; 2Department of Animal Science, School of Agriculture and Biology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200240, China; 3Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, Gimcheon 39660, Republic of Korea

Background: Human infections with a novel avian influenza A virus (H7N9) were reported in Shanghai municipality, China, at the beginning of 2013. High-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H7N9 virus emerged in late February 2017 along with existing low-pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) H7N9 virus, and this has the potential to develop into a pandemic that could be harmful to humans.
Methods: To elucidate the epidemiological characteristics of H7N9-infected cases from 2013 to 2017 in Shanghai, data on the 59 laboratory-confirmed human cases and 26 bird and environmental contamination cases were collected from the WHO website and Food and Agriculture Organization Emergency Prevention System for Animal Health (FAO EMPRES-AH). Full-length sequences of H7N9 viruses that emerged in Shanghai were collected from the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data to analyze the evolutionary and genetic features.
Results: We found that genetically different strains emerged in every epidemic in Shanghai, and most of the circulating H7N9 strains had affinity to human-type receptors, with the characteristics of high-virulence and low-pathogenic influenza viruses. Furthermore, our findings suggest that the Shanghai chicken strains are closely related to the HPAI H7N9 virus A/Guangdong/17SF003/2016, indicating that this viral strain is of avian origin and generated from the LPAI H7N9 viruses in Shanghai. The gradual decrease in H7N9 human infection in Shanghai was probably due to the control measures taken by the Shanghai government and the enhanced public awareness leading to a reduced risk of H7N9 virus infection. However, LPAI H7N9 viruses from poultry and environmental samples were continually detected in Shanghai across the epidemics, increasing the risk of new emerging H7N9 outbreaks.
Conclusion: It is important to consistently obtain sufficient surveillance data and implement prevention measures against H7N9 viruses in Shanghai municipality.

Keywords: epidemiology, H7N9 virus, phylogenetic tree, molecular evolutionary study

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