Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses of the A/Goose/Guangdong/1/1996 lineage (GsGd), which threaten the health of poultry, wildlife and humans, are spreading across Asia, Europe, Africa and North America but are currently absent from South America and Oceania. In December 2021, H5N1 HPAI viruses were detected in poultry and a free-living gull in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Our phylogenetic analysis showed that these viruses were most closely related to HPAI GsGd viruses circulating in northwestern Europe in spring 2021. Our analysis of wild bird migration suggested that these viruses may have been carried across the Atlantic via Iceland, Greenland/Arctic or pelagic routes. The here documented incursion of HPAI GsGd viruses into North America raises concern for further virus spread across the Americas by wild bird migration.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was (partly) financed by Horizon 2020 Framework Programme Deltaflu grant 727922 to VC, AP, MB, ACB, IHB, TK, MLT, JW, Horizon 2020 Framework Programme VEO grant 874735 to MB, RF, TK, German Federal Ministry of Education and Research ‘PREPMEDVET’grant 13N15449 to AP, UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the devolved Scottish and Welsh governments grants SV3032, SV3006 and SE2213 to ACB, RH, IHB, Emergency Funding of the Canadian Food Inspection and Environment and Climate Change Canada to YB, NIAID/NIH contract 75N93021C00014 to RF, Federal funds from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. 75N93021C00015 to NSL.
Publisher Copyright: © 2022, The Author(s).