Genetic evolution of influenza viruses among selected countries in Latin America, 2017-2018

Since the 2009 influenza pandemic, Latin American (LA) countries have strengthened their influenza surveillance systems. We analyzed influenza genetic sequence data from the 2017 through 2018 Southern Hemisphere (SH) influenza season from selected LA countries, to map the availability of influenza genetic sequence data from, and to describe, the 2017 through 2018 SH influenza seasons in LA.
We analyzed influenza A/H1pdm09, A/H3, B/Victoria and B/Yamagata hemagglutinin sequences from clinical samples from 12 National Influenza Centers (NICs) in ten countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay) with a collection date from epidemiologic week (EW) 18, 2017 through EW 43, 2018. These sequences were generated by the NIC or the WHO Collaborating Center (CC) at the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, uploaded to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) platform, and used for phylogenetic reconstruction.
Influenza hemagglutinin sequences from the participating countries (A/H1pdm09 n = 326, A/H3 n = 636, B n = 433) were highly concordant with the genetic groups of the influenza vaccine-recommended viruses for influenza A/H1pdm09 and influenza B. For influenza A/H3, the concordance was variable.
Considering the constant evolution of influenza viruses, high-quality surveillance data-specifically genetic sequence data, are important to allow public health decision makers to make informed decisions about prevention and control strategies, such as influenza vaccine composition. Countries that conduct influenza genetic sequencing for surveillance in LA should continue to work with the WHO CCs to produce high-quality genetic sequence data and upload those sequences to open-access databases.