Wild poliovirus type 3 isolates collected during the Finnish outbreak (1984 to 1985) in different geographical locations were compared by partial RNA sequencing. The entire 5′ non-coding end and a discontinuous part of the capsid coding region were sequenced from 15 isolates. Combining the present sequence data with previously published data and analysing these by the maximum parsimony method showed that the epidemic strains had diverged in cocirculating lineages. Genetic comparison of strains isolated from a single person often revealed a branched structure in the phylogenetic tree indicating high potential for diversification. The extent of variation generated under immunological pressure during an infection lasting for weeks in one person was high as compared with the observed geographical variation.


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