Isolates of yellow fever (YF) virus from Africa (Senegambia, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso) and from South America (Panama, Ecuador, Trinidad) were examined by oligonucleotide fingerprinting of the 40S genome RNA. Geographically isolated and epidemiologically unrelated viruses were very distinct. On the basis of the T1 oligonucleotide fingerprints of each isolate, four geographical variants (topotypes) of YF virus isolated within the same period of time have been established. The Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso topotypes were similar. In the Central African Republic, two variants could be found exhibiting 70 to 75% homology to one another. In South America, the three analysed strains exhibited only about 70% homology, but could be classified in the same topotype. The oligonucleotide fingerprints of the genome RNA offered a useful tool for the understanding of YF virus variability.


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