Background: Pandemic influenza A(H1N1) 2009 virus was first detected in Japan in May 2009 and continued to circulate in the 2010-2011 season. This study aims to characterize human influenza viruses circulating in Japan in the pandemic and post-pandemic periods and to determine the prevalence of antiviral-resistant viruses. Methods: Respiratory specimens were collected from patients with influenza-like illness on their first visit at outpatient clinics during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 influenza seasons. Cycling probe real-time PCR assays were performed to screen for antiviral-resistant strains. Sequencing and phylogenetic analysis of the HA and NA genes were done to characterize circulating strains. Results and Conclusion: In the pandemic period (2009-2010), the pandemic influenza A(H1N1) 2009 virus was the only circulating strain isolated. None of the 601 A(H1N1)pdm09 virus isolates had the H275Y substitution in NA (oseltamivir resistance) while 599/601 isolates (99.7%) had the S31N substitution in M2 (amantadine resistance). In the post-pandemic period (2010-2011), cocirculation of different types and subtypes of influenza viruses was observed. Of the 1,278 samples analyzed, 414 (42.6%) were A(H1N1)pdm09, 525 (54.0%) were A(H3N2) and 33 (3.4%) were type-B viruses. Among A(H1N1)pdm09 isolates, 2 (0.5%) were oseltamivir-resistant and all were amantadine-resistant. Among A(H3N2) viruses, 520 (99.0%) were amantadine-resistant. Sequence and phylogenetic analyses of A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses from the post-pandemic period showed further evolution from the pandemic period viruses. For viruses that circulated in 2010-2011, strain predominance varied among prefectures. In Hokkaido, Niigata, Gunma and Nagasaki, A(H3N2) viruses (A/Perth/16/2009-like) were predominant whereas, in Kyoto, Hyogo and Osaka, A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses (A/New_York/10/2009-like) were predominant. Influenza B Victoria(HA)-Yamagata(NA) reassortant viruses (B/Brisbane/60/2008-like) were predominant while a small proportion was in Yamagata lineage. Genetic variants with mutations at antigenic sites were identified in A(H1N1)pdm09, A(H3N2) and type-B viruses in the 2010-2011 season but did not show a change in antigenicity when compared with respective vaccine strains.
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