We isolated a high pathogenicity avian influenza (HPAI) virus from a common pochard (Aythya ferina) that was being attacked by a bird of prey in South Korea in December 2020. Genetic analyses indicated that the isolate was closely related to the clade 2.3.4.4b H5N8 HPAI viruses found in South Korea and Japan during the winter season of 2020–2021. The histopathological examination revealed multifocal necrotizing inflammation in the liver, kidney, and spleen. Viral antigens were detected in the liver, kidney, spleen, trachea, intestine, and pancreas, indicating the HPAI virus caused a systemic infection. The presence of immunoreactivity for the viral antigen was observed in the cells involved in multifocal necrotic inflammation. Notably, epitheliotropic-positive patterns were identified in the epithelial cells of the trachea, mucosal epithelium of the intestine, and ductular epithelium of the pancreas. These findings provide direct evidence supporting the possibility of HPAI transmission from infected waterfowl to predators.

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