Phylogenetic analysis of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N8) virus strains causing outbreaks
in Dutch poultry farms in 2014 provides evidence for separate introduction of the virus in four outbreaks
in farms located 16–112 km from each other and for between-farm transmission between the third
and fourth outbreak in farms located 550 m from each other.
In addition, the analysis showed that all European and two Japanese H5N8 virus strains are very closely related and seem to originate from a calculated common ancestor, which arose between July and September 2014. Our findings suggest that the Dutch outbreak virus strain ‘Ter Aar’ and the first German outbreak strain from 2014 shared a common ancestor. In addition, the data indicate that the Dutch outbreak viruses descended from an H5N8 virus that circulated around 2009 in Asia, possibly China, and subsequently spread to South Korea and Japan and finally also to Europe. Evolution of the virus seemed to follow a parallel track in Japan and Europe, which supports the hypothesis that H5N8 virus was exchanged between migratory wild waterfowl at their breeding grounds in Siberia and from there was carried by migrating waterfowl to Europe.
Bouwstra RJ, Koch G, Heutink R, Harders F, van der Spek A, Elbers AR, Bossers A. Phylogenetic analysis of highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N8) virus outbreak strains provides evidence for four separate introductions and one between-poultry farm transmission in the Netherlands, November 2014. Euro Surveill. 2015;20(26):pii=21174.