Eighteen haemagglutinin (HA1) gene segments and eleven neuraminidase (NA) genes of human influenza type A (H3N2) viruses isolated from non-vaccinated individuals presenting severe influenza-like illness at peak influenza activity in Southern Greece during the surveillance period 1996–1999, were subjected to sequence and phylogenetic analyses following propagation in embryonated hen’s eggs. The HA1 gene segment of the clinical isolates differed from the recent reference influenza type A (H3N2) vaccine strains in an Ile at residue 186, a Val at residue 194 and a Val at residue 226 for one, two and thirteen isolates of the 1996–1997 and 1996–1999 periods, respectively. The analogous differences in the NA gene were confined in an Asp to Asn substitution at residue 198 in one A/Wuhan/359/95 (H3N2)-like isolate of the 1996–1997 period, primarily. In addition, phylogenetic analysis revealed that an isolate of the 1997–1998 period was a recombinant with its HA1 gene segment being closely related to that of A/Wuhan/359/95-like viruses and its NA to viruses of the A/Sydney/5/97 (H3N2) lineage. These findings confirmed the profound genetic instability of influenza type A (H3N2) viruses and underscored the importance for periodic molecular surveys of HA and NA in the effective prevention and management of viral outbreaks. Most importantly, however, they contributed the first complete epidemiological material for influenza in Southern Greece, the archival nature of which constitutes valuable reference for future surveys.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 1, 2001
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