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Molecular Characterization of Dengue Type 2 Outbreak in Pacific Islands Countries and Territories

Viruses Inizan C, O'Connor O, Worwor G, Cabemaiwai T, Grignon JC, Girault G, Minier M, Prot M, Ballan V, Pakoa G Jr, Grangeon JP, Guyant P, Lepers C, Faktaufon D, Sahukhan A, Merilles OE Jr, Gourinat AN, Simon-Lorière E, Dupont-Rouzeyrol M

Dengue virus (DENV) serotype-2 was detected in the South Pacific region in 2014 for the first time in 15 years. In 2016–2020, DENV-2 re-emerged in French Polynesia, Vanuatu, Wallis and Futuna, and New Caledonia, co-circulating with and later replacing DENV-1. In this context, epidemiological and molecular evolution data are paramount to decipher the diffusion route of this DENV-2 in the South Pacific region. In the current work, the E gene from 23 DENV-2 serum samples collected in Vanuatu, Fiji, Wallis and Futuna, and New Caledonia was sequenced. Both maximum likelihood and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses were performed. While all DENV-2 strains sequenced belong to the Cosmopolitan genotype, phylogenetic analysis suggests at least three different DENV-2 introductions in the South Pacific between 2017 and 2020. Strains retrieved in these Pacific Islands Countries and Territories (PICTs) in 2017–2020 are phylogenetically related, with strong phylogenetic links between strains retrieved from French PICTs. These phylogenetic data substantiate epidemiological data of the DENV-2 diffusion pattern between these countries.

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