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Emerg Infect Dis. 2001 Jul-Aug;7(4):697-705.

The relationships between West Nile and Kunjin viruses.

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


Until recently, West Nile (WN) and Kunjin (KUN) viruses were classified as distinct types in the Flavivirus genus. However, genetic and antigenic studies on isolates of these two viruses indicate that the relationship between them is more complex. To better define this relationship, we performed sequence analyses on 32 isolates of KUN virus and 28 isolates of WN virus from different geographic areas, including a WN isolate from the recent outbreak in New York. Sequence comparisons showed that the KUN virus isolates from Australia were tightly grouped but that the WN virus isolates exhibited substantial divergence and could be differentiated into four distinct groups. KUN virus isolates from Australia were antigenically homologous and distinct from the WN isolates and a Malaysian KUN virus. Our results suggest that KUN and WN viruses comprise a group of closely related viruses that can be differentiated into subgroups on the basis of genetic and antigenic analyses.

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