Epidemiological and evolutionary dynamics of influenza B viruses in Malaysia, 2012-2014

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Abstract

Epidemiological and evolutionary dynamics of influenza B Victoria and Yamagata lineages remained poorly understood in the tropical Southeast Asia region, despite causing seasonal outbreaks worldwide. From 2012-2014, nasopharyngeal swab samples collected from outpatients experiencing acute upper respiratory tract infection symptoms in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were screened for influenza viruses using a multiplex RT-PCR assay. Among 2,010/3,935 (51.1%) patients infected with at least one respiratory virus, 287 (14.3%) and 183 (9.1%) samples were tested positive for influenza A and B viruses, respectively. Influenza-positive cases correlate significantly with meteorological factors-total amount of rainfall, relative humidity, number of rain days, ground temperature and particulate matter (PM10). Phylogenetic reconstruction of haemagglutinin (HA) gene from 168 influenza B viruses grouped them into Yamagata Clade 3 (65, 38.7%), Yamagata Clade 2 (48, 28.6%) and Victoria Clade 1 (55, 32.7%). With neuraminidase (NA) phylogeny, 30 intra-clade (29 within Yamagata Clade 3, 1 within Victoria Clade 1) and 1 inter-clade (Yamagata Clade 2-HA/Yamagata Clade 3-NA) reassortants were identified. Study of virus temporal dynamics revealed a lineage shift from Victoria to Yamagata (2012-2013), and a clade shift from Yamagata Clade 2 to Clade 3 (2013-2014). Yamagata Clade 3 predominating in 2014 consisted of intra-clade reassortants that were closely related to a recent WHO vaccine candidate strain (B/Phuket/3073/2013), with the reassortment event occurred approximately 2 years ago based on Bayesian molecular clock estimation. Malaysian Victoria Clade 1 viruses carried H274Y substitution in the active site of neuraminidase, which confers resistance to oseltamivir. Statistical analyses on clinical and demographic data showed Yamagata-infected patients were older and more likely to experience headache while Victoria-infected patients were more likely to experience nasal congestion and sore throat. This study describes the evolution of influenza B viruses in Malaysia and highlights the importance of continuous surveillance for better vaccination policy in this region.

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Oong, X. Y., Ng, K. T., Lam, T. T. Y., Pang, Y. K., Chan, K. G., Hanafi, N. S., … Tee, K. K. (2015). Epidemiological and evolutionary dynamics of influenza B viruses in Malaysia, 2012-2014. PLoS ONE, 10(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0136254

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