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Emerg Infect Dis. 2000 Sep-Oct; 6(5): 466–476.
PMCID: PMC2627947

Imported lassa fever in Germany: molecular characterization of a new lassa virus strain.


We describe the isolation and characterization of a new Lassa virus strain imported into Germany by a traveler who had visited Ghana, Côte D'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso. This strain, designated "AV," originated from a region in West Africa where Lassa fever has not been reported. Viral S RNA isolated from the patient's serum was amplified and sequenced. A long-range reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction allowed amplification of the full-length (3.4 kb) S RNA. The coding sequences of strain AV differed from those of all known Lassa prototype strains (Josiah, Nigeria, and LP) by approximately 20%, mainly at third codon positions. Phylogenetically, strain AV appears to be most closely related to strain Josiah from Sierra Leone. Lassa viruses comprise a group of genetically highly diverse strains, which has implications for vaccine development. The new method for full-length S RNA amplification may facilitate identification and molecular analysis of new arenaviruses or arenavirus strains.

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