A low pathogenic avian influenza virus was identified from free-living birds (mynah, Acridotheres tristis) of the starling family. Virus was isolated by inoculation of homogenized suspension from lung, tracheal, spleen, and cloacal swabs into the allantoic cavity of embryonated chicken eggs. Subtype of the isolate was characterized as H9N2 by hemagglutination inhibition test using monospecific chicken antisera to a wide range of influenza reference strain. Pathogenicity of the isolate was determined by intravenous pathogenicity index. The virus was reisolated from experimentally infected chicken. Additionally, the isolate was subjected to reverse transcriptase PCR using partial hemagglutinin (HA) gene-specific primers and yielded an amplicon of 487 bp. HA gene sequence analysis revealed 99% sequence homology among mynah and chicken isolates from Oman. On phylogenetic analysis, isolates from mynah (A/mynnah/Oman/AIVS6/2005) and chicken (A/chicken/Oman/AIVS3/2006; A/chicken/Oman/AIVS7/2006) clustered together tightly, indicating these free-flying birds may be a source of introduction of H9N2 subtype in poultry bird in Oman. Moreover, the HA gene of H9N2 isolates from Oman resembled those of viruses of the G1-like lineage and were very similar to those from United Arab Emirates.
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Vol. 59 • No. 2