Molecular surveillance and advanced phylogenetic methods are important tools to track the pathways of Measles virus (MV) genotypes, provide evidence for the interruption of endemic transmission and verify the elimination of the disease. The aims of this study were to describe the genetic profile of MV genotype D8 (D8-MV) strains circulating in Northern Italy (Lombardy Region) during the 2013–2014 period and to analyze the transmission chains and estimate the introduction time points using a phylogenetic approach. Forty-four strains of D8-MV identified from 12 outbreaks and 28 cases reported as sporadic were analyzed. Molecular analysis was performed by sequencing the highly variable 450 nt region of the N gene of MV genome (N-450), as recommended by the WHO. Phylogenetic analyses and tree time-scaled reconstruction were performed with BEAST software. We could trace back the transmission pathways that resulted in three chains of transmission, two introductions with limited spread (two familiar outbreaks), and two single introductions (true sporadic cases). The D8-Taunton transmission chain, which was involved in 7 outbreaks and 13 sporadic cases, was endemic during the studied period. Furthermore, two novel local variants emerged independently in March 2014 and caused two transmission chains linked to at least 3 outbreaks. Overall, viral diversity was high and strains belonging to 5 different variants were identified. The results of this study clearly demonstrate that multiple lineages of D8-MV co-circulated in Northern Italy. Measles can be considered a re-emerging disease in Italy and additional efforts are necessary to achieve measles elimination goal.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases