Molecular characterization of rabies virus isolated from dogs in Tunisia: evidence of two phylogenetic variants

Imen Khlif Amouri, Habib Kharmachi, Ahlem Djebbi, Mohamed Saadi, Nahed Hogga, Lotfi Ben Zakour, Abdeljelil Ghram
Virus Research 2011, 158 (1): 246-50
In an attempt to explain temporal and geographical rabies incidence fluctuations in Tunisia, a molecular epidemiological study of rabies virus (RV) was carried out. A panel of RV isolates from dogs, collected between 1992 and 2003, from different regions in Tunisia have been analysed by direct sequencing of PCR-amplified products coding for the nucleoprotein gene. New sequences have been compared to prototype sequences of Lyssavirus species and nine lineages of species 1. All Tunisian isolates belonged to species rabies virus and segregated into two rabies lineages geographically distinct: NCS lineage characterizing Northeast, Central and Northern areas of the country and NW lineage more restricted to the North-Western regions. Phylogenetic analyses showed that Tunisian RV clustered most closely to Africa 1a lineage: NCS lineage showed nucleic affiliation with isolates from Algeria and Morocco, whereas, NW lineage shared a strong relationship with Ethiopian and Sudanese strains.

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