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Background:In 2007, a novel bunyavirus was found in Henan Province, China and named fever, thrombocytopenia and leukocytopenia syndrome virus (FTLSV); since then, FTLSV has been found in ticks and animals in many Chinese provinces. Human-to-human transmission has been documented, indicating that FTLSV should be considered a potential public health threat. Determining the historical spread of FTLSV could help curtail its spread and prevent future movement of this virus.
Method/Principal Findings:To examine the pattern of FTLSV evolution and the origin of outbreak strains, as well to examine the rate of evolution, the genome of 12 FTLSV strains were sequenced and a phylogenetic and Bayesian phylogeographic analysis of all available FTLSV sequences in China were performed. Analysis based on the FTLSV L segment suggests that the virus likely originated somewhere in Huaiyangshan circa 1790 (95% highest probability density interval: 1756–1817) and began spreading around 1806 (95% highest probability density interval: 1773–1834). Analysis also indicates that when FTLSV arrived in Jiangsu province from Huaiyangshan, Jiangsu Province became another source for the spread of the disease. Bayesian factor test analysis identified three major transmission routes: Huaiyangshan to Jiangsu, Jiangsu to Liaoning, and Jiangsu to Shandong. The speed of FTLSV movement has increased in recent decades, likely facilitated by modern human activity and ecosystem changes. In addition, evidence of RNA segment reassortment was found in FTLSV; purifying selection appears to have been the dominant force in the evolution of this virus.
Conclusion:Results presented in the manuscript suggest that the Huaiyangshan area is likely be the origin of FTLSV in China and identified probable viral migration routes. These results provide new insights into the origin and spread of FTLSV in China, and provide a foundation for future virological surveillance and control.
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