This study was performed to analyze epidemiological and molecular characteristics of coxsakievirus (CV) B1 infection associated with severe neonatal illness cases and death in Korea during 2008-2009. Through a nationwide surveillance program, specimens were collected from 104 patients infected with CVB1. The detection of enteroviruses (EVs) from specimens was subjected to a diagnostic real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in the 5'-non-coding region (NCR). A semi-nested PCR was conducted to amplify sequences from the VP1 region and sequence comparison was performed with reference strains registered in Genbank. Male-to-female ratio confirmed approximately 5:4. The major clinical manifestation of patients infected with CVB1 was aseptic meningitis (55.8%). The other clinical symptoms were herpangina or hand-foot-mouth disease (22.1%) and neonatal sepsis (7.7%). The sequences of CVB1 isolates were divided into four genetic clusters (A-D) with at least 15% diversity between the clusters. Almost all the CVB1 isolates in Korea from 2008 to 2009 were in cluster D (except for 2 cases). The homology relationship was also similar between the Korean CVB1 strains and US strain (above 93%). It is possible that Korean CVB1 isolates found during 2008-2009 originated from the US strains found during 2006-2008. The identification of CVB1 in South Korea shows the potential of EVs to cause serious disease in an unpredictable fashion.
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