Characterization of an H9N2 avian influenza virus from a Fringilla montifringilla brambling in northern China
Avian H9N2 influenza viruses circulating in domestic poultry populations are occasionally transmitted to humans. We report the genomic characterization of an H9N2 avian influenza virus (A/Brambling/Beijing/16/2012) first isolated from a healthy Fringilla montifringilla brambling in northern China in 2012. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that this H9N2 virus belongs to the BJ/94-like sublineage. This virus had a low pathogenicity for chickens and was able to replicate at a low level in mouse lung tissue. Transmission studies in ferrets showed that this H9N2 strain shed high levels of the virus in nasal and throat swabs. In vitro receptor binding assays, the virus bound only to α-2,6 linkage receptors and not to the avian-type α-2,3 linkage receptors, suggesting that H9N2 influenza viruses present potential public health risks. Therefore, attention should be paid to H9N2 influenza viruses and the close surveillance of H9N2 viruses in poultry.