While influenza A viruses comprise a heterogeneous group of clinically relevant influenza viruses, influenza B viruses form a more homogeneous cluster, divided mainly into two lineages: Victoria and Yamagata. This divergence has complicated seasonal influenza vaccine design, which traditionally contained two seasonal influenza A virus strains and one influenza B virus strain. We examined the distribution of the two influenza B virus lineages in Israel, between 2011-2014, in hospitalized and in non-hospitalized (community) influenza B virus-infected patients. We showed that influenza B virus infections can lead to hospitalization and demonstrated that during some winter seasons, both influenza B virus lineages circulated simultaneously in Israel. We further show that the influenza B virus Yamagata lineage was dominant, circulating in the county in the last few years of the study period, consistent with the anti-Yamagata influenza B virus antibodies detected in the serum samples of affected individuals residing in Israel in the year 2014. Interestingly, we found that elderly people were particularly vulnerable to Yamagata lineage influenza B virus infections.
Sharabi, S., Drori, Y., Micheli, M., Friedman, N., Orzitzer, S., Bassal, R., . . . Mandelboim, M. (2016). Epidemiological and virological characterization of influenza B virus infections. PloS One, 11(8), e0161195. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0161195