Coxsackievirus (CV)-A6 infections cause hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) in children and adults. Despite the serious public health threat presented by CV-A6 infections, our understanding of the mechanisms by which new CV-A6 strains emerge remains limited. This study investigated the molecular epidemiological trends, evolutionary dynamics, and recombination characteristics of CV-A6-associated HFMD in Thailand between 2019 and 2022. In the HFMD patient samples collected during the 4-year study period, we identified enterovirus (EV) RNA in 368 samples (48.7%), of which CV-A6 (23.7%) was the predominant genotype, followed by CV-A4 (6%), EV-A71 (3.7%), and CV-A16 (3.4%). According to the partial viral protein (VP) 1 sequences, all these CV-A6 strains belonged to the D3 clade. Based on the viral-RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) gene, four recombinant forms (RFs), RF-A (147, 84.5%), RF-N (11, 6.3%), RF-H (1, 0.6%), and newly RF-Y (15, 8.6%), were identified throughout the study period. Results from the similarity plot and bootscan analyses revealed that the 3D polymerase (3Dpol) region of the D3/RF-Y subclade consists of sequences highly similar to CV-A10. We envisage that the epidemiological and evolutionarily insights presented in this manuscript will contribute to the development of vaccines to prevent the spread of CV-A6 infection.
Keywords: complete genome sequencing; coxsackievirus A6; evolution; genetic recombination; hand, foot, and mouth disease.