The H5N1 avian influenza virus outbreak among zoo tigers in mid-October 2004, with 45 animals dead, indicated that the avian influenza virus could cause lethal infection in a large mammalian species apart from humans. In this outbreak investigation, six H5N1 isolates were identified and two isolates (A/Tiger/Thailand/CU-T3/04 and A/Tiger/Thailand/CU-T7/04) were selected for whole genome analysis. Phylogenetic analysis of the 8 gene segments showed that the viruses clustered within the lineage of H5N1 avian isolates from Thailand and Vietnam. The hemagglutinin (HA) gene of the viruses displayed polybasic amino acids at the cleavage site, identical to those of the 2004 H5N1 isolates, which by definition are highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). In addition, sequence analyses revealed that the viruses isolated from tigers harbored few genetic changes compared with the viruses having infected chicken, humans, tigers and a leopard isolated from the early 2004 H5N1 outbreaks. Sequence analyses also showed that the tiger H5N1 isolated in October 2004 was more closely related to the chicken H5N1 isolated in July than that from January. Interestingly, all the 6 tiger H5N1 isolates contained a lysine substitution at position 627 of the PB2 protein similar to the human, but distinct from the original avian isolates. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Amonsin, A., Payungporn, S., Theamboonlers, A., Thanawongnuwech, R., Suradhat, S., Pariyothorn, N., … Poovorawan, Y. (2006). Genetic characterization of H5N1 influenza A viruses isolated from zoo tigers in Thailand. Virology, 344(2), 480–491. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.2005.08.032