Aim: The A/goose/Guangdong/1/96-like hemagglutinin (HA) genes of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) A(H5) viruses have continued to rapidly evolve since the most recent update to the H5 clade nomenclature by the WHO/OIE/FAO H5N1 Evolution Working Group. New clades diverging beyond established boundaries need to be identified and designated accordingly.
Method: Hemagglutinin sequences deposited in publicly accessible databases up to December 31, 2014, were analyzed by phylogenetic and average pairwise distance methods to identify new clades that merit nomenclature changes.
Results: Three new clade designations were recommended based on division of clade 2·1·3·2a (Indonesia), 2·2·1 (Egypt), and 2·3·4 (widespread detection in Asia, Europe, and North America) that includes newly emergent HPAI virus subtypes H5N2, H5N3, H5N5, H5N6, and H5N8.
Conclusion: Continued global surveillance for HPAI A(H5) viruses in all host species and timely reporting of sequence data will be critical to quickly identify new clades and assess their potential impact on human and animal health.
Keywords: H5 subtype; clade nomenclature; hemagglutinin; highly pathogenic avian influenza; molecular epidemiology; phylogenetics; viral evolution.
© 2015 The Authors. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.