Postepizootic persistence of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, Venezuela.
Five years after the apparent end of the major 1995 Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) epizootic/epidemic, focal outbreaks of equine encephalitis occurred in Carabobo and Barinas States of western Venezuela. Virus isolates from horses in each location were nearly identical in sequence to 1995 isolates, which suggests natural persistence of subtype IC VEE virus (VEEV) strains in a genetically stable mode. Serologic evidence indicated that additional outbreaks occurred in Barinas State in 2003. Field studies identified known Culex (Melanoconion) spp. vectors and reservoir hosts of enzootic VEEV but a dearth of typical epidemic vectors. Cattle serosurveys indicated the recent circulation of enzootic VEEV strains, and possibly of epizootic strains. Persistence of VEEV subtype IC strains and infection of horses at the end of the rainy season suggest the possibility of an alternative, cryptic transmission cycle involving survival through the dry season of infected vectors or persistently infected vertebrates.
Navarro, J-C; Medina, G; Vasquez, C; Coffey, LL; Wang, E; Suárez, A; Biord, H; Salas, M; Weaver, SC
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