Origin of HAV strains responsible for 2016-2017 outbreak among MSM: Viral phylodynamics in Lazio region

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In Europe HAV infection occurs mainly among specific risk groups, such as consumers of specific food. Sexual transmission of HAV has been demonstrated, particularly among MenWho-Have-Sex-With-Men (MSM), causing MSM-specific outbreaksin Europe. Here we report a molecular epidemiologic and phylodynamic analysis on HAV sequences in Lazio (central Italy)to identify genetic background and the phylogenetic relations, and test the HAV infection dynamics during a large outbreak through phylodynamic model.Among all HAV sequences found during 2013-2018 in Lazio, low genetic diversity was observed in HAV population in 2016 and 2017, along with high frequenciesVRD_521_2016and RIVMHAV16-090, suggesting a large expansion event of viral population. The initial expansion of both VRD_521_2016 and RIVM-HAV16-090 clusters dated back to 2012 (95% HPD:2006-2015). During the2016-2017outbreak in Lazio region, the Re peaked around mid-2016, with a value of 1.73 (95% HPD: 1.03-2.37), consistent with incidence trend of AHA cases in Lazio between 2016 and mid-2017. This study showed the magnitude of HAV outbreak in Lazio during 2016-2017, demonstrating the epidemic continuity to MSM-specific outbreak in Europe. The HAV dataset is available on interactive phylodynamic platform https://nextstrain.org to real-time update of future outbreaks.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0234010
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 29 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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