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Virus Res. 2001 Apr;74(1-2):1-15.

Genetic characterization of Puumala hantavirus strains from Belgium: evidence for a distinct phylogenetic lineage.

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Department of Immunology-Vaccinology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Liège, Bât B 43 bis, Boulevard de Colonster, 20. B-4000, Liège, Belgium.


Puumala hantavirus (PUUV) sequences were recovered from red bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus) trapped between 1996 and 1998 in four localities of southern Belgium: Thuin, Montbliart, Momignies and Couvin. In addition, three PUUV isolates originating from bank voles trapped in the 1980s in southern (Montbliart) and northern (Turnhout) Belgium were genetically characterized. Analysis of the complete S and partial M segment sequences showed that the Belgian PUUV strains constitute a genetic lineage, distinct from other known PUUV lineages from Europe and Japan. This lineage also includes a wild strain (Cg-Erft) originating from a neighbouring area of Germany. Within the Belgian lineage, geographical clustering of genetic variants was observed. In the Montbliart site, the range of diversity between the most temporally distant strains (from 1986 and 1996-1998) was higher than between those from 1996 and 1998, suggesting slight genetic drift via accumulation of neutral or quasi-neutral substitutions with time.

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