Population- and Variant-Based Genome Analyses of Viruses from Vaccine-Derived Rabies Cases Demonstrate Product Specific Clusters and Unique Patterns

Sten Calvelage; Smreczak, Marcin; Orłowska, Anna; Freuling, Conrad Martin GND; Müller, Thomas GND; Fehlner-Gardiner, Christine; Nadin-Davis, Susan; Höper, Dirk GND; Trębas, Paweł

Rabies in wildlife has been successfully controlled in parts of Europe and North America using oral rabies vaccination, i.e., the distribution of baits containing live-attenuated virus strains. Occasionally, these vaccines caused vaccine virus-induced rabies cases. To elucidate the mechanisms of genetic selection and the effect of viral populations on these rabies cases, a next generation sequencing approach as well as comprehensive data analyses of the genetic diversity of Street Alabama Dufferin (SAD) and ERA vaccine virus strains and vaccine-induced rabies cases from Canada and several European countries were conducted. As a result, twelve newly generated sets of sequencing data from Canada and Poland were added to a pool of previously investigated samples. While the population-based analysis showed a segregation of viruses of ERA vaccine-induced rabies cases from those of SAD Bern original (SAD Bernorig)-derived rabies cases, the in-depth variant analysis revealed three distinct combinations of selected variants for the ERA vaccine-induced cases, suggesting the presence of multiple replication-competent haplotypes in the investigated ERA-BHK21 vaccine. Our findings demonstrate the potential of a deep sequencing approach in combination with comprehensive analyses on the consensus, population, and variant level.

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Calvelage, Sten / Smreczak, Marcin / Orłowska, Anna / et al: Population- and Variant-Based Genome Analyses of Viruses from Vaccine-Derived Rabies Cases Demonstrate Product Specific Clusters and Unique Patterns. 2020.

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