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Future Microbiol. 2015;10(9):1447-65. doi: 10.2217/fmb.15.65. Epub 2015 Sep 11.

Influenza B viruses: not to be discounted.

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Department of Viroscience, Erasmus Medical Center, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
ViroClinics Biosciences BV, Rotterdam Science Tower, Marconistraat 16, 3029 AK Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


In contrast to influenza A viruses, which have been investigated extensively, influenza B viruses have attracted relatively little attention. However, influenza B viruses are an important cause of morbidity and mortality in the human population and full understanding of their biological and epidemiological properties is imperative to better control this important pathogen. However, some of its characteristics are still elusive and warrant investigation. Here, we review evolution, epidemiology, pathogenesis and immunity and identify gaps in our knowledge of influenza B viruses. The divergence of two antigenically distinct influenza B viruses is highlighted. The co-circulation of viruses of these two lineages necessitated the development of quadrivalent influenza vaccines, which is discussed in addition to possibilities to develop universal vaccination strategies.


animal models; evolution; human; immunity; influenza B virus; lineages; natural hosts; pathogenesis; tropism

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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