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Respiratory syncytial viruses (RSVs) including subgroups A (RSV-A) and B (RSV-B) are an important cause of acute respiratory tract infections worldwide. RSV-A include major epidemic strains. Fundamental questions concerning the evolution, persistence and transmission of RSV-A are critical for disease control and prevention, yet remain unanswered. In this study, we generated 64 complete G gene sequences of RSV-A strains collected between 2008 and 2015 in Guangdong, China. Phylogenetic analysis was undertaken by incorporating 572 publicly available RSV-A sequences. Current data indicate that genotypes GA1, GA4, and GA5 are endemic with limited epidemic activity. In contrast, the GA2 genotype which likely originated in 1980 has spread rapidly and caused epidemics worldwide. By analyzing GA2 genotype sequences across epidemic seasons within Guangdong, we find that RSV-A epidemics in Guangdong are caused by a combination of virus importation and local persistence, although the magnitude of the latter is likely overestimated due to infrequent sampling in other regions. Our results provide new insights into RSV-A evolution and transmission at global and local scales and highlights the rapid and wide spread of genotype GA2 compared to other genotypes. In order to control RSV transmission and outbreak, both local persistence and external introduction should be taken into account when designing optimal strategies.

Original publication




Journal article


Front Microbiol

Publication Date





evolution, phylogenetic, phylogeographic, respiratory syncytial virus, transmission