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Bull World Health Organ. 1974;51(1):1-11.

Antigenic variation in current influenza A viruses: evidence for a high frequency of antigenic 'drift' for the Hong Kong virus.


A new antigenic variant of the Hong Kong (H3N2) subtype of influenzavirus type A is described. The variant, A/Port Chalmers/1/73 (H3N2), was first isolated in Australasia in the autumn of 1973 and subsequently became the predominant influenza A variant in most areas of the world, replacing the previously prevalent strain A/England/42/72 (H3N2). The 1973 variant shows antigenic differences from former Hong Kong variants in both haemagglutinin and neuraminidase antigens. The application of immuno-double-diffusion tests and single-radial-diffusion tests in the antigenic analysis of new variants of the influenzavirus is also described. It is emphasized that since new variants of the Hong Kong virus have appeared in the successive years 1971, 1972, and 1973, the annual frequency of antigenic "drift" for the Hong Kong virus is higher than was recorded for the "Asian" influenzavirus (H2N2) in the first 5 years of the latter's prevalence from 1957 to 1962, during which period little antigenic variation occurred.

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