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Since mumps vaccination was introduced in 1981 in Spain, the incidence of the disease has dropped significantly. However, cyclic epidemic waves and outbreaks still occur, despite high vaccination coverage. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends genotyping to trace the pattern of mumps virus (MuV) circulation. Genotype H was predominant in Spain, but was replaced in 2005 by genotype G which has subsequently remained dominant. Of the small hydrophobic protein gene sequences, 78% are identical and belong to the MuVi/ Sheffield.GBR.1.05/[G]-variant. Our study aimed to investigate whether the circulation of MuV strains in Spain was continuous after the emergence of genotype G in 2005. We obtained 46 samples from Spanish patients infected with MuVi/Sheffield.GBR.1.05/[G] during two epidemic waves and analysed them using new molecular markers based on genomic non-coding regions (NCRs) that discriminate subvariants of this virus strain. Phylogenetic analyses of the nucleoprotein–phosphoprotein and matrix protein–fusion protein NCR indicated strain replacement after a drop in incidence in 2009, which had not been detectable by SH sequencing. Clustering of sequences from patients epidemiologically linked in the same outbreak suggests a potential use for these NCRs in outbreak characterisation. We suggest to consider their use in conjunction with the SH gene in the future WHO recommendations for MuV epidemiological surveillance.


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