Mihaela Lazar is a virologist responsible with genetic characterization of influenza viruses in National Influenza Centre (NIC), part of European Reference Laboratories for Influenza (ERLI Net) of World Health Organization (WHO) with the main role in monitoring and surveillance of influenza viruses and detect novel/emerging viruses with potential pandemic threat, and assures surveillance of other well-recognized respiratory viruses, important to track seasonality.
Seasonal influenza causes substantial illness and death. Influenza viruses undergo constant mutation, which plays an important role in virus escape from host immune defense. The evolving nature of influenza viruses mandates that the composition of seasonal influenza vaccines is adjusted annually in order to remain effective. We aimed to investigate the characteristics of influenza viruses circulating in Romania during the 2017-2018 influenza season witch indicates an unpredictable circulation pattern. \r\nFirst influenza virus from sentinel system was detected in week 49/2017, but constantly detection of the virus started with week 2/2018. HA genes from selected cases (n=142) were sequenced for genetic characterization: 67.6% B (Yamagata lineage), 21.8 A(H1N1), 10.5% A(H3N2). \r\nGenetic analyses revealed a number of variations at the HA sequences of Romanian circulating strains. All influenza B viruses tested fall in clade 3, the B/Phuket/3073/2013 clade, with all falling into a genetic group defined by HA1 amino acid substitutions: L172Q, M251V, D196N and D198T. Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus analyses shows that all viruses fell into clade 6B.1 defined by the substitutions S84N, S162N (+CHO) and I216T in HA1. The analysis of HA sequences of Influenza A(H3N2) virus reveals that fall within genetic group 3C, subgroup 3C.2a with the characteristic amino acid substitutions: N145S, L3I, N144S, F159Y, K160T, N225D and Q311H, like A/Hong Kong/5738/2014 and 3C.2a1 subclade which encodes N121K, N171K in HA1. The influenza activity was higher than in the previous season, characterised by co-circulation of influenza A(H3N2), A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses with B influenza virus (Yamagata lineage) being dominant. \r\nThe circulation patterns of seasonal influenza viruses vary with antigenic drift. Genetic and antigenic data along with epidemiological surveillance are able to early capture the molecular changes of the circulating influenza viruses and can support vaccination programs. A wide knowledge of the seasonality patterns is important but it is a challenge due to the unpredictable circulation of influenza viruses.\r\n
Dr Patricia F. Favaro has done her Masters and PhD from Universidade de São Paulo. She has been the visiting scholar at Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, the OIE Reference Laboratory for Equine Influenza. She has proficiency in molecular biology, diagnostic of infectious diseases, scientific writing, scientific presentations and meetings. She possesses strong organizational and analytical skills, critical thinking, confidence and ability to work with hierarchical levels.
The equine influenza virus (EIV) is responsible for one of the most important respiratory diseases in horses, mules and donkeys. Three H3N8 virus strains (A/equine/Sao Paulo/1.19/2012, A/equine/Sao Paulo/16.19/2012 and A/equine/Sao Paulo/24.19/2012) were isolated from horses with respiratory disease in the State of São Paulo during the Brazilian outbreak in 2012 . Viral RNA was extracted from the allantoic fluid and cDNA synthesized . Amplification and sequencing  were applied to the HA gene of the three strains, while the eight genes of A/equine/Sao Paulo/1.19/2012 were sequenced and analyzed. Specific primers were applied  for amplification and sequencing. Polymerase (PA, PB1 and PB2) internal primers were designed for sequencing so as to allow complete codon analysis. The confidence levels of all the sequences were evaluated using the FinchTV™ software. The eight genes from different EIVs available in the GenBank and EpiFlu (GISAID) databases were compared with the Sao Paulo/1.19/2012 strain. The nt neighbor-joining trees were constructed using Mega 5.0.5 , by means of the Maximum Composite Likelihood substitution model and Bootstrap method for phylogeny test, with 1,000 repetitions . The nucleotide sequences were deposited in GenBank (accession numbers: KJ955628, KM032366 - KM032369 and KM190933 - KM190935, KT460192 and KT460193). The hemagglutinin was most identical to the Rio Grande do Sul/2012, Dubai/2012, Argentina/2012 and Uruguay/2012 strains and to some North American/2011-2012 strains. All eight genes clustered in the Florida Clade 1 sublineage. This study provides genomic information about EIV Brazilian strains from State of São Paulo.