The appearance of a second genotype of Japanese encephalitis virus in the Australasian region.

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  • 1 Public Health Virology, Queensland Health Scientific Services, Coopers Plains, Australia.

In mid-January 2000, the reappearance of Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus activity in the Australasian region was first demonstrated by the isolation of JE virus from 3 sentinel pigs on Badu Island in the Torres Strait. Further evidence of JE virus activity was revealed through the isolation of JE virus from Culex gelidus mosquitoes collected on Badu Island and the detection of specific JE virus neutralizing antibodies in 3 pigs from Saint Pauls community on Moa Island. Nucleotide sequencing and phylogenetic analyses of the premembrane and envelope genes were performed which showed that both the pig and mosquito JE virus isolates (TS00 and TS4152, respectively) clustered in genotype I, along with northern Thai, Cambodian, and Korean isolates. All previous Australasian JE virus isolates belong to genotype II, along with Malaysian and Indonesian isolates. Therefore, for the first time, the appearance and transmission of a second genotype of JE virus in the Australasian region has been demonstrated.