Abstract

The H5N1 virus (H5N1/97) that caused the bird flu incident in Hong Kong in 1997 has not been isolated since the poultry slaughter in late 1997. But the donor of its H5 hemagglutinin gene, Goose/Guangdong/1/96-like (Gs/Gd/96-like) virus, established a distinct lineage and continued to circulate in geese in the area. In 2000, a virus from the Goose/Guangdong/1/96 lineage was isolated for the first time from domestic ducks. Subsequently, it has undergone reassortment, and these novel reassortants now appear to have replaced Gs/Gd/96-like viruses from its reservoir in geese and from ducks. The internal gene constellation is also different from H5N1/97, but these variants have the potential for further reassortment events that may allow the interspecies transmission of the virus.

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