Isolation of Japanese encephalitis virus from mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) collected in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea, 1997-1998.

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  • 1 Department of Microbiology and Parasitology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

After Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus emerged in the Torres Strait in Australia in 1995, investigations were initiated into the origin of the incursion. New Guinea was considered the most likely source, given its proximity to islands of the Torres Strait. Almost 400,000 adult mosquitoes were processed for virus isolation from 26 locations in the Western Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG) between February 1996 and February 1998, yielding three isolates of JE virus. Two isolates of Murray Valley encephalitis, 17 isolates of Sindbis, and 1 each of Sepik and Ross River viruses were also obtained. Nucleic acid sequences of the PNG JE isolates were determined in the prM region, and in a region overlapping a part of the fifth nonstructural protein and the 3' untranslated region. The PNG isolates belonged to genotype II, and shared > 99.2% identity with isolates from humans and mosquitoes from the Torres Strait, suggesting that PNG is the source of incursions of JE virus into Australia.