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The association between a particular mutation in the HA1 subunit of the influenza virus haemagglutinin, D222G, and severe and fatal disease in cases of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 in Norway during the 2009 pandemic was investigated using pyrosequencing. The prevalence of the variant among fatal cases was 8/26 and among severe non-fatal cases 5/52. No D222G mutations were found among the 381 mild cases. This difference could not be attributed to sampling differences, such as body location of sampling, or duration of illness. In cases with mutant virus where clinical specimens from different days of illness were available, transition from wild-type to mutant virus was commonly observed (4/5), indicating that the mutant virus emerged sporadically in individual patients. In patients with paired samples from both the upper and lower respiratory tract (n=8), the same viral genotypes were detected in both locations. In most of the D222G cases (11/13), the mutant virus was found as a quasispecies.


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