Thirty-five field rabies virus strains were collected in recent years in different regions of the Russian Federation in order to characterize their genetic heterogeneity and to study their molecular epidemiology. In addition to the Russian viruses, seven archive samples from Estonia and Finland and two Russian vaccine strains were also included in the study. The viruses collected were subjected to two different reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction tests, the amplicons were sequenced and the sequences were analysed phylogenetically. Among the field viruses studied, two main phylogenetic groups were found and designated as Pan-Eurasian and Caucasian according to their geographic origin. The Pan-Eurasian group, comprising some reference viruses from Europe, was further divided into four subgroups. All of the vaccine strains were clearly different from the field strains. No recombination between the field and vaccine virus strains was observed. The data obtained here show the critical role of geographical isolation and limitation for the genetic clustering and evolution of the rabies virus and also help in predicting its distribution from rabies-affected areas to rabies-free areas.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 1, 2007
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