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Genetic characterization of a Coxsackie A9 virus associated with aseptic meningitis in Alberta, Canada in 2010

Kanti Pabbaraju1, Sallene Wong1, Eve N Y Chan13 and Raymond Tellier12*

Author Affiliations

1 Provincial Laboratory for Public Health, 3030 Hospital Drive, Calgary, Alberta, T2N 4W4, Canada

2 Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

3 Current address: Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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Virology Journal 2013, 10:93  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-10-93

Published: 22 March 2013



An unusually high incidence of aseptic meningitis caused by enteroviruses was noted in Alberta, Canada between March and October 2010. Sequence based typing was performed on the enterovirus positive samples to gain a better understanding of the molecular characteristics of the Coxsackie A9 (CVA-9) strain responsible for most cases in this outbreak.


Molecular typing was performed by amplification and sequencing of the VP2 region. The genomic sequence of one of the 2010 outbreak isolates was compared to a CVA-9 isolate from 2003 and the prototype sequence to study genetic drift and recombination.


Of the 4323 samples tested, 213 were positive for enteroviruses (4.93%). The majority of the positives were detected in CSF samples (nā€‰=ā€‰157, 73.71%) and 81.94% of the sequenced isolates were typed as CVA-9. The sequenced CVA-9 positives were predominantly (94.16%) detected in patients ranging in age from 15 to 29 years and the peak months for detection were between March and October. Full genome sequence comparisons revealed that the CVA-9 viruses isolated in Alberta in 2003 and 2010 were highly homologous to the prototype CVA-9 in the structural VP1, VP2 and VP3 regions but divergent in the VP4, non-structural and non-coding regions.


The increase in cases of aseptic meningitis was associated with enterovirus CVA-9. Sequence divergence between the prototype strain of CVA-9 and the Alberta isolates suggests genetic drifting and/or recombination events, however the sequence was conserved in the antigenic regions determined by the VP1, VP2 and VP3 genes. These results suggest that the increase in CVA-9 cases likely did not result from the emergence of a radically different immune escape mutant.

Human enteroviruses; Coxsackie A9; Aseptic meningitis; Serotyping