An outbreak of severe infections among Australian infants caused by a novel recombinant strain of human parechovirus type 3

Tiffanie N. and Soren A.

Authors: Tiffanie M. Nelson, Peter Vuillermin, Jason Hodge, Julian Druce, David T. Williams, Rekha Jasrotia & Soren Alexandersen

Source: Scientific Reports 7, Article number: 44423, Published online: 14 March 2017 (PDF)

Brief summary of the paper: Human parechovirus types 1–16 (HPeV1–16) are positive strand RNA viruses in the family Picornaviridae. We investigated a 2015 outbreak of HPeV3 causing illness in infants in Victoria, Australia. Virus genome was extracted from clinical material and isolates and sequenced using a combination of next generation and Sanger sequencing.

The HPeV3 outbreak genome was 98.7% similar to the HPeV3 Yamagata 2011 lineage for the region encoding the structural proteins up to nucleotide position 3115, but downstream of that the genome varied from known HPeV sequences with a similarity of 85% or less. Analysis indicated that recombination had occurred, may have involved multiple types of HPeV and that the recombination event/s occurred between March 2012 and November 2013.

However the origin of the genome downstream of the recombination site is unknown. Overall, the capsid of this virus is highly conserved, but recombination provided a different non-structural protein coding region that may convey an evolutionary advantage.

The indication that the capsid encoding region is highly conserved at the amino acid level may be helpful in directing energy towards the development of a preventive vaccine for expecting mothers or antibody treatment of young infants with severe disease.