In this work, nineteen influenza A/H3N2 viruses isolated in Mexico between 2003 and 2012 were studied. Our findings show that different human A/H3N2 viral lineages co-circulate within a same season and can also persist locally in between different influenza seasons, increasing the chance for genetic reassortment events. A novel minor cluster was also identified, named here as Korea, that circulated worldwide during 2003. Frequently, phylogenetic characterization did not correlate with the determined antigenic identity, supporting the need for the use of molecular evolutionary tools additionally to antigenic data for the surveillance and characterization of viral diversity during each flu season. This work represents the first long-term molecular epidemiology study of influenza A/H3N2 viruses in Mexico based on the complete genomic sequences and contributes to the monitoring of evolutionary trends of A/H3N2 influenza viruses within North and Central America.
Pandemic type A (H1N1) influenza arose in early 2009, probably in Mexico and the United States, and reappeared in North America in September for seven more months. An amino acid substitution in the hemagglutinin (HA), D222G, has been reported in a significant proportion of patients with a severe and fatal outcome. We studied the prevalence of HA222 substitutions in patients in Mexico during the second wave and its association with clinical outcome and pathogenicity in a mouse model.
Influenza A viruses are a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and affect large segments of the population every year. The nature of their genome, formed by eight segments of single-stranded RNA, favors the constant evolution of the virus by two main mechanisms: the accumulation of single nucleotide mutations in the viral genes introduced by an error-prone viral RNA polymerase and the reassortment of genes between two strains of different origin. The viral genome encodes 11 proteins. Most have been shown to play a role in shaping the virulence scenario of influenza A viruses, including the adaptation of infection and transmission into new host species, the ability to modulate the host immune response, and the capacity to replicate efficiently at low temperature. On the surface of the virus particles there are two principal polypeptides, the hemagglutinin (HA) and the neuraminidase (NA), which are the target for the neutralizing antibodies immune response. There are 16 HA and 9 NA different subtypes in the influenza A virus that circulate in humans and animals. When a virus strain with a new HA or NA subtype appears in the human population by genetic reassortment, it usually causes a pandemic because there is no preexisting immunity against the new virus. This was the case for the three pandemics that occurred during the last century (1918, 1957, and 1968) and also for the first pandemic of the 21(st) century, caused by the currently circulating A (H1N1) 2009 virus, which was generated by gene reassortment between a virus present in pigs of North America and a virus that circulates in the swine population of Euroasia.
In the spring of 2009, swine-origin influenza H1N1pdm09 viruses caused the first influenza pandemic of this century. We characterized the influenza viruses that circulated early during the outbreak in Mexico, including one newly sequenced swine H1N1pdm09 virus and three newly sequenced human H1N1pdm09 viruses that circulated in the outbreak of respiratory disease in La Gloria, Veracruz. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the swine isolate (A/swine/Mexico/4/2009) collected in April 2009 is positioned in a branch that is basal to the rest of the H1N1pdm09 clade in two (NP and PA) of the eight single-gene trees. In addition, the concatenated HA-NA and the complete whole-genome trees also showed a basal position for A/swine/Mexico/4/2009. Furthermore, this swine virus was found to share molecular traits with non-H1N1pdm09 H1N1 viral lineages. These results suggest that this isolate could potentially be the first one detected from a sister lineage closely related to the H1N1pdm09 viruses.
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