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Eur J Epidemiol. 1996 Feb;12(1):63-70.

Genetic reassortment in pandemic and interpandemic influenza viruses. A study of 122 viruses infecting humans.

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Department of Virology & Molecular Biology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, USA.


The human influenza pandemics of 1957 and 1968 were caused by reassortant viruses that possessed internal gene segments from avian and human strains. Whether genetic reassortment of human and avian influenza viruses occurs during interpandemic periods and how often humans are infected with such reassortants is not known. To provide this information, we used dot-blot hybridization, partial nucleotide sequencing and subsequent phylogenetic analysis to examine the 6 internal genes of 122 viruses isolated in humans between 1933 and 1992 primarily from Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The internal genes of A/New Jersey/11/76 isolated from a human fatality at Fort Dix, New Jersey in 1976 were found to be of porcine origin. Although none of the geographically and temporally diverse collection of 122 viruses was an avian-human or other reassortant, cognizance was made of the fact that there were two isolates from children from amongst 546 influenza A isolates obtained from The Netherlands from 1989-1994 which were influenza A reassortants containing genes of avian origin, viruses which have infected European pigs since 1983-1985. Thus, genetic reassortment between avian and human influenza strains does occur in the emergence of pandemic and interpandemic influenza A viruses. However, in the interpandemic periods the reassortants have no survival advantage, and the circulating interpandemic influenza viruses in humans do not appear to accumulate avian influenza virus genes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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