Reassortant influenza A viruses bearing H1 haemagglutinin and N2 neuraminidase were isolated from humans in China between December 1988 and March 1989. As primary isolation of influenza A (H1N2) viruses from humans had not been reported previously, it was of interest to determine the genetic origin of these virus isolates. The haemagglutinins of the H1N2 viruses were antigenically and genetically related to those of H1 viruses isolated world-wide since 1986, and the neuraminidases of these viruses were antigenically and genetically related to those of recent H3N2 viruses. Partial sequencing of each gene segment of three of the H1N2 viruses revealed that all gene segments except that encoding the haemagglutinin gene were derived from virus of the H3N2 subtype. Sequence differences amongst the neuraminidase, nucleoprotein and nonstructural genes of these three H1N2 reassortant viruses as well as the isolation of reassortants in seven laboratories over a 4 month period make it unlikely that the H1N2 viruses are laboratory artefacts. The spread of these reassortant viruses to other countries has not yet been documented.


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