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Virus Res. 2000 Jun;68(1):7-13.

The molecular epidemiology of Kokobera virus.

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Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, University of Queensland, Qld. 4072, Brisbane, Australia.


We describe herein the molecular epidemiology and phylogeny of Kokobera (KOK) virus, a flavivirus found in Australia and Papua New Guinea. We sequenced a region encompassing the 200 nucleotides of the 3' terminus of the NS5 gene, and the first 300 nucleotides of the 3' untranslated region (UTR). The study included 25 isolates of the virus, including an isolate from PNG, and several recent isolates from the south-west of Western Australia (WA), where the virus had not previously been detected. We found that the KOK isolates clustered according to geographic location and time of isolation into three distinct topotypes: one covering Queensland and New South Wales; another represented by the single isolate from PNG; and a third covering the Northern Territory and WA. This latter group was further subdivided into northern and south-west isolates. This molecular epidemiology is significantly different from other Australian flaviviruses, such as Murray Valley encephalitis (MVE) and Kunjin (KUN) viruses, which exist as single genetic types across the entire Australian continent. However, it is similar to the molecular epidemiology of the alphavirus Ross River (RR) virus. This may be explained by the fact that MVE and KUN viruses are known to have birds as their main vertebrate hosts, whereas RR virus utilises macropods, which have also been implicated as the vertebrate host for KOK virus. In addition, the south-west isolates exhibited a degree of sequence heterogeneity, including one isolate that has a nine nucleotide deletion in the 3'UTR. This suggests that KOK virus has been in the south-west of WA for some time, and was not recently introduced.

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