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Open Access Research

Genetic analysis of chikungunya viruses imported to mainland China in 2008

Kui Zheng1, Jiandong Li2, Quanfu Zhang2, Mifang Liang3, Chuan Li3, Miao Lin4, Jicheng Huang1, Hua Li4, Dapeng Xiang1, Ninlan Wang4, Ye Hong1, Li Huang5, Xiaobo Li1, Deguan Pan5, Wei Song5, Jun Dai4, Boxuan Guo1 and Dexin Li2*

Author Affiliations

1 Guangdong Inspection and Quarantine Technology Center, Guangzhou, China

2 State Key Laboratory for Molecular Virology and Genetic Engineering, Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention, China CDC, 100 Yingxinjie, Xuanwu District, Beijing 100052, China

3 State Key Laboratory for Infectious Disease Control and Prevention, 100 Yingxinjie, Xuanwu District, Beijing 100052, China

4 Guangdong Entry-exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, Guangzhou, China

5 Guangzhou Baiyun Airport Entry-exit Inspectional and Quarantine Bureau, China

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Virology Journal 2010, 7:8  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-7-8

Published: 18 January 2010

Abstract

Background

Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) has caused large outbreaks worldwide in recent years, especially on the islands of the Indian Ocean and India. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti), which are widespread in China, with an especially high population density in southern China. Analyses of full-length viral sequences revealed the acquisition of a single adaptive mutation providing a selective advantage for the transmission of CHIKV by this species. No outbreaks due to the local transmission of CHIKV have been reported in China, and no cases of importation were detected on mainland China before 2008. We followed the spread of imported CHIKV in southern China and analyzed the genetic character of the detected viruses to evaluate their potential for evolution.

Results

The importation of CHIKV to mainland China was first detected in 2008. The genomic sequences of four of the imported viruses were identified, and phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that the sequences were clustered in the Indian Ocean group; however, seven amino acid changes were detected in the nonstructural protein-coding region, and five amino acid changes were noted in the structural protein-coding regions. In particular, a novel substitution in E2 was detected (K252Q), which may impact the neurovirulence of CHIKV. The adaptive mutation A226V in E1 was observed in two imported cases of chikungunya disease.

Conclusions

Laboratory-confirmed CHIKV infections among travelers visiting China in 2008 were presented, new mutations in the viral nucleic acids and proteins may represent adaptive mutations for human or mosquito hosts.