Fahad N. Almajhdi
Although Influenza virus infections threaten thousands of lives each year worldwide and bear the risk of been an epidemic, little is known about the circulating strains in Saudi Arabia. The availability of a rapid and accurate diagnostic approach is essential for effective treatment and disease control. In the current study, we optimized a duplex RT-PCR assay for the simultaneous detection of influenza A and B viruses in clinical samples. The developed assay was utilized for testing 100 nasopharyngeal aspirates collected from young children hospitalized with acute respiratory tract infection in Riyadh. Influenza B not A viruses, were identified as possible causes of the disease syndrome. Recovery of influenza B virus from clinical samples was achieved by serial passage in chicken embryos and the virus isolate was designated as Influenza B/Riyadh/01/2007. The identity of B/Riyadh/01/2007 was confirmed by sequencing the RT-PCR product. The sequenced data was submitted to the Gene Bank under the accession number GU135839. An almost complete homology was recognized with all Influenza B virus strains available on Gene Bank. Although several studies suggested the presence of influenza B virus in respiratory tract infection of Saudi children, this is the first report that describes the isolation and partial identification of the circulating virus. Further studies that fully characterize the isolated strain are ongoing.
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