1887

Abstract

In recent years, West Nile virus (WNV) has re-emerged in the Western Mediterranean region. As a result, the number of complete WNV genome sequences available from this region has increased, allowing more detailed phylogenetic analyses, which may help to understand the evolutionary history of WNV circulating in the Western Mediterranean. To this aim, the present work describes six new complete WNV sequences from recent outbreaks and surveillance in Italy in 2008–2009 and in Spain in 2008 and 2010. Comparison with other sequences from different WNV clusters within lineage 1 (clade 1a) confirmed that all Western Mediterranean WNV isolates obtained since 1996 (except one from Tunisia, collected in 1997) cluster in a single monophyletic group (here called ‘WMed’ subtype). The analysis differentiated two subgroups within this subtype, which appear to have evolved from earlier WMed strains, suggesting a single introduction in the area, and further dissemination and evolution. Close similarities between WNV variants circulating in consecutive years, one in Spain, between 2007 and 2008, and another in Italy between 2008 and 2009, suggest that the virus possibly overwinters in Western Mediterranean sites. The NS3-proline genotype, recently proposed as a virulence determinant for WNV, has arisen independently at least twice in the area. Overall, these results indicate that the frequent recurrence of outbreaks caused by phylogenetically homogeneous WNV in the Western Mediterranean since 1996 is consistent with a single introduction followed by viral persistence in endemic foci in the area, rather than resulting from independent introductions from exogenous endemic foci.

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2011-11-01
2019-12-14
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vol. , part 11, pp. 2512 - 2522

Summary of the data of origin, names, GenBank accession numbers and other details on the virus isolates and field samples studied in this work [PDF](12 KB)



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